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Creators of free and open source software are often criticised for not bothering to make equivalents of proprietary software and web applications to attract users over.


This criticism is frequently levelled at the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project which kicked off the process of creating a free operating system back in the 1980s. Such criticism is often driven by ideological considerations and out of ignorance.

Social networks are all the rage today and with that in mind, the FSF is driving the creation of social networking software which should provide similar functionality to Facebook with two important differences - privacy and freedom are in the user's hands.

Matt Lee (below), the leader of the team working on GNU social, says, "It is a new decentralised social network, offering privacy and freedom to its users. We're based on the StatusNet codebase that powers Identi.ca."
Matt Lee
Lee told iTWire that the project began shortly after he began working on Libre.fm, a free software service for discovering new music, in April last year. "After a few months, we began thinking about social networking features and I was hesitant to add them to our service only, instead thinking that it would be better to roll it as a separate component," he says.

"As with Libre.fm (GNU FM), I wanted to create a project which would allow users to replace an existing web service they use, with one that they could control. With Libre.fm we've built a viable replacement for Last.fm; with GNU social, we're creating a free alternative to social networking sites."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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