Welcome to GNU Generation’s website! Our mission is to promote the use of Free Software on the EPFL campus. You will find here all there is to know about our commission, our latest news and events, as well as a wiki containing help and information about the services we propose to EPFL students and collaborators.
Free as in Free speech, not free beer! According to the Free Software Foundation, Free Software is software that gives its users the four following freedoms:
- The freedom to run the software for any purpose.
- The freedom to study how the software works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour.
- The freedom to improve the software, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.
Using Free Software is a guarantee of quality, security and freedom in our modern world. Free Software is the result of a synergy between users and developers (those who write programs), as – unlike in big software shops where coders will never use what they have written – the developers are also users, and any user who wishes it may become a developer. Therefore, the code is very often the result of collaborative work between many independant writers that ensures better code quality – resulting in better software – than proprietary software, whose code is not reviewed and tested by its users, although they are best placed to demand quality of their software. This same collaboration is to be credited for the high security offered by Free Software, because numerous independant security experts have proof-read its code, with their own safe use as an interest. Finally, as mentioned, Free Software is before all else about respecting users’ freedom and privacy, akin to Human Rights in Informatics.
Moreover, as the software is done by and for the community, it entirely respects the private life of its users: first because there is no organisation with economic or political interests behind the software and secondly because such a lack of elementary decency would be immediately discovered and discarded by other developers.
That seems very nice but… where do you guys come in?
Interested in Free Software? Thinking it is time to take your IT freedoms and your privacy back in your own hands? Then the GNU Generation can help you achieve these laudable goals! We can counsel you on the choice of Free Software, help you install and use it, or offer services based on Free Software that can ease your everyday and student life. We mostly provide help for installing GNU/Linux, an entirely Free operating system (the software that makes your computer run, akin to Microsoft Windows® or Mac OS®) which will allow you to use your computer in a secure and free manner. We can also assist you to setup and use numerous other softwares, such as git, vim or emacs, PGP, etc. Feel free to come and meet us during the day, or maybe come to one of our install fests or contact us!
But all of this is of no use to me if I’m not a geek, right?
WRONG! Free Software is for everyone, it is not required to be a computer whiz to use it. They even are, more often than not, a lot simpler to use than their proprietary counterparts due to their stability and their creation by and for end-users. A good example that many of you probably already use is VLC, a video and stream player. Well, it’s FOSS (Free and Open Source Software)! Which is why it is available in so many languages, with so many features and customisations, while remaining very stable and fast. Especially if you know nothing in IT, then your back is better guarded by Free Software than by trusting big corporations who hold money as a primary interest.
How can I join you?
If you want to invest yourself further in promoting Free Software at EPFL and/or are looking for other people who share your passion and spend some good time together, as well as continuously learn from the diversity of our members, you can join us! The only requirements are that you should be a student or an EPFL collaborator, as we are an AGEPoly commission. The easiest way of joining us is coming to see us during one of our weekly meetings to meet the commitee and sign-up. Freedom-loving friend, we are waiting for you!