If this is all new to you, here’s a guide to some of the terms we use on this website.

Free software is computer code that respects users’ freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Contrast this with proprietary software which denies you these rights with complex legal agreements, which most people “agree” to without reading them.

Open-source software is a similar concept – it means that you can study the code (source code), but your other freedoms are not guaranteed

FLOSS stands for free, libre and open source software, and is a larger category that includes both of the above

Linux is a free software kernel, that is the heart of the computer operating system. Usually when people say Linux, they mean GNU/Linux

GNU/Linux Is a complete free-software operating system. It is packaged and distributed in many different varieties, known as “Linux distributions” or “distro’s” for short.

Debian is a highly stable, safe, community-created distro. Many of the server computers that make the internet work run it. It is fully free software.

Ubuntu is a distro derived from debian, originally created with ease of use and community in mind. Some people feel that the project has strayed from these goals.

Mint is a distro derived from ubuntu, which it has overtaken in popularity to become the 3rd most widely used operating system for personal computers, behind windows and OS X. It is included as standard with laptops. For your conveneince, some non-free software is included (e.g. the code which makes the wifi chip work)

Upcycling means taking something that was waste and turning it into something useful. However people have different ideas of what ‘waste’ is, so the border between re-use and up-cycling is blurred.

E-waste is the electronic waste produced in vast amounts by industrial nations. It is toxic and often shipped to poorer parts of the globe for processing in appalling working conditions. Re-using electronic goods, avoiding unnecessary purchases and responsible end-of-life disposal are all important ways to avoid e-waste, as well as having other environmental and social benefits.