Acer, through its Philippine branch, is giving out free computers to organizations helping out the disadvantaged sectors. Cool. Unfortunately, the report did not give more details about the software package included in the hardware equipment. It’s hard to place a bet on this, but I wildly guess that the software package bears the name of Bill Gates’s company. So Acer’s message to the beneficiaries sounds like this: “Welcome to the wonderful world of Windows. Through mouse clicks, it’s easy to navigate through the desktop and get things done. But in exchange, please do understand that you have to get by viruses that might infect your machines in the future. And please buy licensed copies of every Microsoft program that you’re using. And if you want to raise the level of your productivity with the machines, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll refer you to companies or groups that provide related services. Some of them provide cheap rates, though.”
Teaching the disadvantaged how to better use software without the benefit of free and open source software (FOSS) is like merely feeding them with fish, not teaching them how to fish. I admire Acer for its slogan: “Empowering people”. More so, I admire it for providing cheaply-priced notebook computers which are compatible with Linux. Although, I wish that it would be more conscious about the slogan by promoting free and open source software (FOSS).
This is my call to technology philanthropists: There is nothing freer than free and open source softwares that run in the free computers. If you give out free computers, give out free CDs containing FOSS applications as well.