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Why Philippine Institutions Should Use FOSS

#education #foss

Soc Virnyl Estela | 2023-10-01 | updated: 2023-10-11 |reading time: ~5min

Background§

For a very long time, the Philippines is no stranger for the problems of science and tech illiteracy, especially when it comes to the usage of their own computers. From controversial topics such as privacy and security, and also from the ethical and moral perspectives of using software such as piracy and scams.

Most Filipinos do not even know the term "Open Source" nor any software that are actually Free and Open Source Software.

Hence, I am advocating the idea of raising awareness of Free and Open Source Software or FOSS so multiple institutions in the country would reconsider using FOSS alternatives over proprietary ones. With this, I hope that we learn its importance and how it will shape our lives for the better.

So what is Open Source Software (OSS)?§

Basically, open source is a philosophy. It is a belief that open code collaboration is vital for the improvement and innovation of technology and software. Open means, the code is accessible by or for everyone. Think of it as a humanitarian mission to improve the livelihood of many people, not just developers, in many areas such as education, and research.

So what is "Free"?§

So there is also another philosophy in the tech space called FOSS or Free and Open Source Software. It is a belief that everything in software should be free and free as in free beer and it should be accessible for everyone (therefore, freedom). However, please do note that FOSS and OSS should compensated for the free time they used for creating wonderful software. You can help by donating to them and helping out their issues, not just technically, but socially and emotionally as well.

After this, what we refer as "Open Source Software" will either mean FOSS or OSS.

"There is X proprietary software, why use some free software?"§

There is nothing wrong in using proprietary software. It always comes down to tolerance—what you can allow and what you cannot allow. These kind of "tolerances" can be in terms of "security", "trust", and "privacy" or whatever you can come up with.

However, proprietary software is usually a blackbox, which means that you really cannot check the source if there is something malicious going on unlike Open Source Software. This is partially true though because OSS can still end up being malicious, it's just more transparent.

There are many reasons Philippines should use OSS over proprietary. These usually comes from some of the following factors:

  • Finances
  • Transparency
  • Privacy

There are many others but we will focus on these for now.

Finances§

Philippines is a poverty-stricken country (or corrupt-stricken?) and buying proprietary software will cost you a lot of your salary. Because of the culture that people should use proprietary software such productivity suites, Filipinos are forced to find "cracked" or "hacked" forms of these proprietary software for "free" usage ending up getting malicious programs without their knowledge in the process such as viruses and trojans, lessening the lifespan of their machines or even losing their files and data.

To avoid that, Filipinos should install OSS alternatives for productivity.

Educational Institutions Benefit More§

The Department of Education, and the Commission on Higher Education can encourage the usage of OSS. By using OSS, they can focus more of their finances on infrastructure rather than buying proprietary software subscriptions.

Filipino students do not actually need to pay when they just want to write documents and create presentations. I mean, if they have the money, they can still buy and use proprietary alternatives. But using OSS empowers students to finish school and use OSS confidently without having issues of money and finances, especially those that do not have the means to pay.

Transparency§

Open source is more transparent. Institutions can have a look at the source of the software and see what is going to be removed or added in the future or if there were new leadership or maintainers of said software. They are also encouraged to donate because they rely on OSS.

This transparency equates to increased trust of using software and allow Filipinos to use the software with the necessary trust they can offer to that software.

Privacy§

Because of the introduction of OSS to the masses, curiousity for why this software exists will allow Filipinos to define their privacy choices of their usage of software.

There are many privacy-oriented alternatives against unethical data collection of popular software such as Zoom, and Instagram. With the presence of OSS software which promotes freedom and frowns on such practices, people are more likely to have more understanding what privacy is, and how important it is to respect someone's privacy.

Are there things you would like to add to this post?§

If you have more to add, please email me at uncomfy@uncomfyhalomacro.pl.

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