Today is the Free Software Foundation‘s “I love free software” day, and guess what? I love free and open source software. I’ve been using FOSS since grad school, when I started writing papers on the seminary computer lab’s Ubuntu machines. My personal laptop is a System 76. When I started my new job (where I have to use Windows), I insisted on being allowed to have the GIMP, or the GNU Image Manipulation Program, on my machine. It was a little victory, but a meaningful one.

#ilovefs day 2014 is an online campaign that raises awareness of Free Software and passionate, hard-working people behind it. (from the website) I use it because it is written by people who care deeply about what they do, and who want to keep improving. It reminds me of the Hebrew phrase tikkun olam, which means repairing (or healing) the world. Free Software means you can read the code, which means you can improve it — and then pass it on for the better. Free Software repairs the world by advancing projects made with integrity to people who need them, free of charge. One day, I hope to contribute code to projects that people use every day.

My FOSS Valentine is my partner, Nathaniel:

I picked this picture because it looks like he is explaining something here, and his mom’s beautiful painting is in the background. (This was taken by our friend Seth Pajak of VeganESP at our Halloween Party, and chances are he was teaching us how to play Arkham Horror — not explaining FOSS — but no matter.) He’s a great teacher and advocate for FOSS; check out his active Github and his blog. He inspires me to continue with my Python study so that I can build my dreams.

I enjoyed reading about why folks love Free Software at #ilovefs HQ, but I didn’t see anyone who looks like me among these nice people. I hopefully searched #ilovefs on Twitter, and only found a handful of women discussing it:

There is a well-known gender gap in the world of FOSS contributions, but thankfully, there are organizations working to amend this. Last year I was tempted to apply to the Gnome Foundation’s Outreach Program for Women, where participating FOSS organizations (like Debian, Fedora, Mozilla, and Wikimedia) offer internships to women who want to start contributing. Different winds took me different ways, but there’s a chance I might still try in the future.

I’m grateful to the Free Software Foundation for inspiring me to share just a little bit about my journey with FOSS today. It’s an important part of my life, but something I don’t talk about too often. Perhaps I should change that!