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Re: Advice Workplace that Forces Non-Free Software

From: Jean Louis
Subject: Re: Advice Workplace that Forces Non-Free Software
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2020 00:04:04 +0300
User-agent: Mutt/1.14.0 (2020-05-02)

* lily via libreplanet-discuss <> 
[2020-08-10 17:11]:
> Dear LibrePlanet Community,
> I am reaching out to you again for advice. 7 months ago, I asked for
> advice with asking IT to support a GNU+Linux operating system. Months
> later, and now in the middle of a pandemic, I am working remotely on a
> Windows laptop. I have admin rights and so I am able to install and
> run all the Free Software I wish, but I have run into some problems in
> the workplace.

Try to give them the full article about what is free software, for
example from:

Have such article printed as PDF and ready for people to
read. Distribute the article.

> Let me remind you that I work as a biostatistician for a research team
> at a major hospital in Portland. And as a non-patient facing health
> care worker, I and the team I work with have been working remotely
> since April. We are forced to use Microsoft Outlook, Teams,
> Skpye/Lync, OneDrive for communication and storage. I continue to use
> R, Emacs, LibreOffice, GIMP, and other pieces of Free Software, but I
> have run into a problem. The data analysts and my manager primarily
> use SPSS, Tableau, and Microsoft products, and other non-free
> software. And, when I propose that we use Beamer to produce
> professional research posters, as opposed to PowerPoint, or when I
> propose LaTeX to write up research reports as opposed to Word, or Git
> to maintain a repository of the R and SPSS code, I get shut down, and
> even punished. Now all my emails have to go to my manager before I can
> send them to the medical doctors, and data analysts. I try to gently
> show how great these tools are from a utility perspective, forget the
> ethical standpoint, because all I get is "We use Word and PowerPoint.
> That is how things are done here."

You are in organization where you are not in charge of software, so
any data files you create are not compatible with their softwar, so
they demand you to make it compatible.

While Beamer is great choice, Libreoffice with Open Document
presentation files is better solution as such as then accepted in
their own software.

You are in situation which you cannot change, it is beyond your
control. So the only thing you can do is to say that you use free
software, and why.

But if they want only final product, like PDF file, it should not
matter how you made such a file. Probably they want source files, so
for them it probably matters to have the original files and if not
compatible with their system, your work is not contributing their
goals well. It is obvious.

You cannot change organizational principles from bottom up, but you
could maybe convince somebody in cahrge about free software, yet it
will be unlikely.

In my opinion, security of hospital information is at stake if using
proprietary software tools, but they may not mind of it anyway.

> 2. Gently try to push for a little more Freedom in the work place, but
> risk loosing my job and not be able to contribute what I can
> financially to the Free Software Movement.

The third option is that you provide your services as freelancer and
you say what you can provide and in which formats, for example I think
that Open Document format is accepted by Microsoft Office and that
they can convert it in proprietary if they wish. As freelancer you
would impose your terms.

> I am leaning more towards Option 1, but if I lose the Free Software I
> am able to work with, I will also lose the opportunity to learn and
> grow as a biostatistician.

Exactly, don't lose this opportunity.

> I understand that this is more of a social issue, rather than a
> technical issue, but I would greatly appreciate any advice from people
> who can relate to this experience.

You cannot dictate organizational principles as employee. So get along
until you can change your environment.

> Thank you so much LibrePlanet community, you are wonderful! I also do
> volunteering where I get to promote Free Software, but again with the
> pandemic, those activities have come to a halt. And as a result I
> tried pushing for alternative software in the work place, which is
> having a the negative outcome I described above.

In my opinion there is no alternative to freedom, so any proprietary
software is not welcome in civilized society. Use the examples that US
government produced software is free software, there is reason for
it. Use examples that EU is now preferring free software in
governments, so the society worldwide is becoming more civilized. An
organization shall not be controlled by third parties, the software


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