Paul Boddie's Free Software-related blog

Archive for February, 2012

Buying Hardware that Supports Free Software

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Have you ever wanted to buy a computer without paying a certain corporation for a product of theirs that you don’t want? Were you concerned that, regardless of whether you managed to buy a system without that unwanted operating system, the hardware might not support your favourite operating system distribution properly, leaving you unable to use some of the computer’s hardware (like the wireless network or some of the fancy graphical capabilities)? Were you worried that you might need to do extra work to support your favourite distribution and that people you know would end up blaming you for persuading them to try out something like GNU/Linux? Did you ever try to buy a “computer that runs Linux” from a major manufacturer only to find yourself navigating a labyrinth on their Web site (with every passage prominently marked with an advertisement for the unwanted proprietary¬†product of a certain corporation), ending up either on a page telling you that they don’t sell that model any more, or on a “404 not found” page with all traces of that model erased from the record as if it never existed in the first place?

On the Fellowship Wiki, we are trying to put together an up-to-date list of vendors selling systems that at the very least don’t involve you paying the “Windows Tax“, and preferably involve the option of having a Free Software operating system distribution (like a GNU/Linux flavour such as Debian, Fedora or Ubuntu) pre-installed and ready to use. Although we don’t endorse any vendors – this is just research into those offering solutions that are friendly to Free Software – we hope that this resource will be useful for anyone looking to buy a new computer and act as an encouragement for other vendors to offer products that uphold healthy competition and appeal to an increasing group of people who care about things like Free Software, privacy, the right to control their own computer, the provenance of the software on their computer, the sustainability of their computing environment, and, of course, the proper functioning of the market for personal computers (where one company should not decide what everyone gets to use).

Go to the Hardware Vendors page to see what we’ve found so far, along with links to other resources that have provided good directions to friendly vendors, and feel free to contribute if you are an FSFE Fellow with some expertise of your own in this area. With the vast majority of ready-to-use computers sold via retail channels bundled with proprietary software, the market has been distorted to make the adoption of Free Software more difficult and to keep end-users ignorant of the benefits of Free Software and their right to control their own computer. Please consider helping us to level the playing field!