How Open Source Can Affect Sustainability

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When we hear Open Source, we usually think privacy or transparency. But we less often link it to the environmental aspects and its implications to sustainability.
Today, we want to highlight how “Green IT“ and Open Source can be intertwined and why we should all make an effort to develop it further. Also, we want to show you what you can do, even if you‘re not an IT person, to act more sustainable with regards to the devices and technologies you‘re using on a daily basis.

Software can be maintained longer thanks to Open Source

Phone manufacturers will rarely push software updates for longer than 3 years for a smartphone. You may think that the phone can keep on running for years after updates drop; and it can be the case… But the counterpart is that the usability & security of the software (OS + apps) can be compromised. We had bad surprises in the past…
And what happens  if the software you run on your smartphone is closed source? Well that means you are completely at the mercy of the software maker which can decide to drop it the next day.

On the other hand, if the software is Open Source, individuals, communities or any types of entities can take ownership of the code and push updates for years to come.
This is for instance how the Fairphone 2  could be maintained by the LineageOS community for years.

XDA website lists many alternative systems to Android, sometimes for old phones abandoned by manufacturers. Be careful, however, the installation of a “custom ROM” requires computer skills. At iodé we offer smartphones with iodéOS preinstalled to make it easier.

Non-open source software often leads to opaque telemetry

Modern commercial apps are real energy suckers, because they constantly initiate network connections (and we won’t talk about cloud & streaming services here… yes, convenience got us trapped). For example trackers that spy on your behavior or continuously send your location data to companies. Not only it compromises your privacy but it also drains your battery really quick. Also, if you look at stock Android, it comes with a lot of apps preinstalled that you cannot even uninstall. So the storage of your phone is blocked with apps that you might never use which also constantly collect data without you having a way to opt out of that.

Unless you use more ethical alternatives, of course. iodéOS, our own OS,  has a selection of privacy-friendly apps preinstalled, and you can uninstall every single one if you wish to. Also, the standard bloatware is removed, so your Android experience is a very clean one. A one you actually own.

And the same holds true for other open source software as well. You’ll find that there are great open source alternatives to most apps/software and in a lot of cases, they will be more privacy-friendly, more sustainable in terms of energy consumption and with a nice and welcoming developer/user community behind each project. F-Droid Appstore is a good place to start roaming.

An adblocker can preserve your privacy and reduce data transmissions

Adblockers have many advantages for you.  To list a few, adblockers will

  • Remove distracting ads, making pages easier to read
  • Make web pages load faster
  • Keep advertisers from tracking you across websites

But let’s not forget that adblockers can also reduce bandwidth and battery usage which is also good for the environment! And while a closed source adblocker can work as well if not better than an open source one, favor the open one when you can, as transparency is key here.
You will find a lot of adblockers in different app stores. F-Droid is probably the best place to look for one. They all have pros and cons, depending on your needs: some use the VPN slot, which doesn’t allow you to run a VPN at the same time, others require root privileges to run them…
With iodéOS, we have built one from scratch that runs locally on your device and automatically blocks malware, ads, trackers of all kind, and allows you to do way more things.

As you can see, with just a little research and knowledge you can drastically improve your security, your privacy and your environmental footprint by choosing open source software. And while we‘re at it, it might also save your wallet!

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