Free Software Foundation’s RYF Certified Hardware List Released for 2015
We see a lot of great hardware launched throughout the year. Especially during events like the ongoing CES 2016, manufacturers go for their best shot in an attempt to bring something new to the market and squeeze their product into the ever competing world.
However, there is a “dark” side with all of these top of the line hardware: the accompanying proprietary software. The sheer quantity of closed-source software that accompanies great hardware gives us the illusion that this is what the customer wants, while in fact, customers often have to resign themselves to using such software and hardware due to the absence of competing options.
But should this continue on, uncontested?
This is where organizations like The Free Software Foundation step in. If you haven’t heard about them, the FSF is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote computer user freedom, and to defend the rights of all free software users. They work towards securing freedom for computer users by promoting the development and use of free software and documentation.
The Free Software Foundation had created the Respects Your Freedom hardware certification program back in 2012, with an aim to encourage the creation and sale of hardware that will ensure that you have absolute and full control over your device. Through this program, companies can follow guidelines which helps demonstrate their commitment to respect user freedom, user privacy and user’s right to control their own devices.
“A person shouldn’t need to fully understand all of the matters of liberty and privacy wrapped up in today’s technology — they shouldn’t need to have the expertise and knowledge needed to evaluate licenses, or to make sense of the many legal and technological restrictions that can encumber their hardware, threaten their privacy, or deny them control over their device and data. Instead, if a person trusts the FSF and trusts our commitments to doing this work well, they can seek out products bearing the RYF mark and know that this research has been done for them.”
The FSF enters into contract with companies that pass the hardware certification program, to document their commitment in return being allowed the use of the certification mark on their product. Such products are promoted via the RYF page at FSF’s website.
The RYF certification program is key to the long-term success of FSF’s work. In 2015, this RYF certification was awarded to six new devices:
- 3 laptops: Libreboot X200 and T400 from Minifree, and the Taurinus X200 from Libiquity.
- 2 3D-printers: The LulzBot TAZ 5 and the LulzBot Mini by Aleph Objects.
- 1 wireless router: The Free Software Wireless-N Mini Router (TPE-R1100) sold by ThinkPenguin.
You can find the relevant information and purchase links for these devices on this page.
FSF’s and the RYF Certification program’s goals are certainly ambitious: to provide extensive hardware options in all product categories that respect your freedom as a user. This is a very uphill task, and the FSF needs your help. In order to sustain the RYF certification program, and to help grow it, they are requesting user donations. The FSF needs to raise $450,000 by January 31st 2016 to maintain its current capacity in terms of infrastructure. The organization has already managed $323,000 so far, but does need help to reach their targets. All excess amounts raised will go towards hiring more people to work towards the cause of user freedom. You can also make long term commitments to help sustain and grow the FSF.
If you are unable to contribute monetarily to the cause, you can help the FSF by sharing and recommending RYF certified products to people around you who you think would benefit from them. You can also push hardware vendors towards the certification criteria, so that more and more vendors are informed about the existence of such a program. The popularity of the RYF is a key factor in making available hardware that respects your freedom. Let them know your demand, let them know your choice.
XKCD Comic: #743