empowering users
to control technology

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Erik Grun

This page is part of a series of interviews with FSFE supporters and friends to help give a face to our community. Get an overview about our interviews on the testimonials page


"My name is Erik Grun. I am studying Economics in Berlin and I am an active member of the FSFE for almost four years now. It is very hard to tell how I got to know the FSFE and Free Software in general, because my first touch with Free Software lies back even further. Back then I was quite interested in learning how to programme and somewhere I must have heard, that if you wanted to become a“real” programmer you, should use GNU/Linux. So I started using one of the more common distributions and then I somehow heard about the GNU project, Richard Stallman and our sister organization in America. The next thing I remember is being at one of my first local meetings and discussing how to bring Free Software into schools."

Short Interview with Erik Grun (2019)

FSFE: What made you interested in the FSFE and motivated to become a supporter?

Erik Grun: Well, the FSF was overseas and so far away and I wanted to help promoting Free Software here in my home town in Berlin. My motivation came from a rather practical standpoint. I wanted to learn programming and one way to do this, is by taking a programme with a copyleft licence. You can start by reading and understanding its source code and if you start publishing your changes, you can be sure, that they stay Free. Nowadays my motivation has shifted more to the rather political reasons. For me Free Software is something, that just makes sense – like the freedom of speech or freedom of movement. Denying someone the freedoms of Free Software is denying them their basic human rights.

By supporting FSFE you engage as a volunteer. What are you doing for FSFE?

I am currently the coordinator of the local group in Berlin and I am a part of our education team. This means, that my tasks mainly involve organising our Fellowship meetings and helping out at booths, but also very importantly helping to promote our campaigns on the local level by talking to and meeting with people from other organisations, politicians and so on.

What is the most fun part about engaging for FSFE?

Talking to people, who work in the public sector about why they should support Free Software is definitely fun, but helping with booths is the most fun. In Berlin we have many different kinds of events, which cover even more diverse topics that often seem to have no connection to Free Software at all. Convincing people at these events that they also need Free Software can sometimes be quite a challenge, because you always have to adapt to the event you are visiting, but that’s what makes it the most fun part.

What is your favourite FSFE campaign at the moment?

Of course it is “Public Money? Public Code!“, because in the midterm it has the most achievable goals. Our most important campaign is probably “Free Your Android!”, because almost everyone owns a smart device today and these still come with some nasty pre-installed non-free software. So, by installing F-Droid (and replacing Android with a Free version), we can easily show people how software freedom can look like and hopefully more people realise the advantages it gives them.

Public Money? Public Code!

As the local coordinator, do you think Berlin is an attractive spot for Free Software enthusiasts?

Definitely! In Berlin are so many different communities that are using and promoting Free Software. There is even a page, lug.berlin, that tries to give an overview of all the local user groups, that are meeting and hacking together in and around Berlin.

You mentioned being a part of education team, what activities do you undertake in this role?

As the FSFE group in Berlin one of our main goals is bringing Free Software and its concepts into schools. That's why we are talking to teachers, so that they can pass their knowledge on to the children and why we are trying to convince our decision makers about the inalienability of Free Software for equal educational chances. What the FSFE could do, is strengthen our education team. We need help with designing flyers, maybe launching a campaign. Also it would be very nice to have someone in the office, who is hired for working on education-related topics, so we could an expert to contact, when we need help.

In one sentence: What is the biggest benefit of Free Software?

Nowadays technology plays a key role in our lives and as Free Software means having control over technology it means having self-determination in our own lives.

What is your favourite Free Software?

As there is so many great Free Software out there, it is quite difficult for me to answer, but I think on smart devices you should definitely try out apps like "Conversations" (and "ChatSecure" for iOS), "NewPipe" and "Transportr". In general, I really like Nextcloud, because it has some really nice killer features.

Is there anything you believe the FSFE should improve or begin working on next? Any wishes for the future?

I think, the FSFE should put more effort into bringing Free Software and its concepts and values into schools, universities and the like. If we can get children to use Free Software and teach them reasons why they should do so, they will not only start to value the freedom it gives them, but will also become politicians, programmers, designers, decision makers and so on, who can help us in transforming to a Free Software society. So, in the end it would really help us in taking a day or two off. ;-)

Community Meeting
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