Here at EFF we rely heavily on freely licensed software to run our websites, organization, and activism campaigns. Unlike proprietary software that restricts users from tinkering with the programs they run, free software carries with it the ability to modify, study, share, and improve a program's source code. From a security standpoint, software freedom is a necessary precursor to security and privacy because nonfree programs make it difficult or impossible to inspect and verify the programs running on a machine. Without the freedom to fix security holes and share these changes with others, nonfree software leaves computer users to fend for themselves.
Free software reintroduces a sense of solidarity amongst computer users. Rather than developing a dependency on a single vendor, users are free to collaborate with others to add features and fix bugs. In contrast, changes to proprietary programs depend on the whim of a program's owner.
Tools we build
Free software has an important role to play in the development of a modern society that values cooperation and autonomy. That's why we release the software we develop under strong copyleft licenses like the GNU General Public License (GPL): to ensure that the tools we build remain free software even as they evolve and grow.
Not a coder? Not a problem. There are plenty of other ways to help, including suggesting usability/accessibility improvements, artwork enhancements, translation, or helping promote our tools to new communities.
Tools we use
The work we do wouldn't be possible without free software tools, and we're not alone in that. (We're listing these tools not as endorsements, but to let you, the curious reader, know some of the things we use in-house.) Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker Laura Poitras recently urged people to support free software, emphasizing that the work she's done revealing bulk surveillance wouldn't be possible without it.
We keep our organization humming along by using Mediawiki for our internal wiki, Redmine to track issues, LibreOffice to edit documents of all shapes and sizes, KeePassX to store passwords and credentials.
We use Drupal to run www.eff.org. Its modular design and high level of customization allow us to also use it as a base for our membership management tools and shop.eff.org.
CiviCRM is an essential tool for our work. We use it to send out email blasts, run our membership program, and accept donations.
Debian GNU/Linux is the standard OS for our servers, with the occasional FreeBSD machine. Debian's commitment to software freedom and reputation for stability make it an obvious choice.
Though we tend towards using tried-and-true tools, we also tend to experiment with newer programs like Docker, Vagrant, Salt stack, and Owncloud, a current staff favorite. I'd love to hear what free software programs you use and any suggestions you have on tools that could make our work easier or more effective. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.