You can't always judge a book by its cover

It's hard to be sure what you're actually giving someone--especially when you're talking about digital media, electronics, and the newest batch of gadgets. With manufacturer restrictions going out of control, some gifts take away more than they give us.

But sometimes you can look inside

Ethical companies are making--and using--ethical technologies to make sure the gifts we give belong to those they're for. Whether you're looking for freedom and privacy or just the knowledge that that ebook will still be around six months from now, the Free Software Foundation's Ethical Giving Guide can help you find the perfect gift.


Use #givefreely. You might get a gift out of it!

Lead an event

Print and distribute to holiday shoppers.

Donate instead

Help a free software organization in a friend's name.


replicant phone
Galaxy Note 2 with Replicant

    Your smartphone isn't just a phone--it's a computer you carry with you every day. It's your camera, your connection to your friends and family, and, for many people around the world, their only internet-enabled device. By choosing one of these phones, you're bringing freedom to your pocket, not just your communications.

    You can also get an S2 or S3, complete with replicant.

  • Runs the Replicant free operating system, based on Android.
  • Features F-Droid, the free software catalogue that makes it easy to get all the applications you need without sacrificing control of your phone.
  • Note: While the main processor is exclusively running free software, the modem processor runs a Samsung nonfree system.
Stay away from: iPhones
  • Comes with no shortage of spyware.
  • iOS is a fully proprietary operating system, giving Apple control over the software on the devices.
  • Apple uses DRM to block competing software.

Laptops, Tablets, and Desktops


T400 with GNU/Linux

    Setting up a fully free system is easier than it used to be, but can still seem daunting--especially if you've never done it before. Luckily, you can now get a new-to-you laptop that's ready to go out of the box.

    Technoethical also has a T400s available.

  • Runs the FSF-endorsed Trisquel operating system and libreboot firmware.
  • Durable hardware is meant to last and is easy to repair.
  • Created by a small business that replaces all restrictive components from a stock laptop.
Stay away from: Windows

Compact Laptops

X200 with GNU/Linux

Get it from

Libiquity Technoethical Vikings

    Compact laptops are light and easy to carry, making them popular among people on the go. Whether it's for a student, or someone who likes to work from coffee shops or travels frequently, it's great to have a machine that goes with you. Thanks to Libiquity and Technoethical, you can have mobility and freedom.

  • Runs the FSF-endorsed Trisquel operating system with libreboot firmware. The X200 sold by Libiquity is also certified to Respect Your Freedom.
  • Durable hardware is meant to last and is easy to repair.
  • Created by a small business that replaces all restrictive components from a stock laptop.
  • Stay away from: Apple
    • Runs on proprietary software that restricts the user's freedoms.
    • Apple app stores use DRM to restrict what you can do with your purchases.
    • Comes crawling with spyware.

Convertible Laptops/Tablets

Technoethical convertible tablet laptop
X200t with GNU/Linux

    There are a lot of things to say about why a convertible laptop is great. With a stylus and screen you can use as a tablet, they're versitle, multi-purpose, and stylish.

  • Runs the FSF-endorsed Trisquel operating system with libreboot firmware.
  • Durable hardware is meant to last and is easy to repair.
  • Created by a small business that replaces all restrictive components from a stock laptop.
Stay away from: Microsoft Surface


The Workstation, a tower computer by Vikings
D16 Workstation with GNU/Linux

Get it from


    Sometimes you want or need a more powerful machine. Desktops are the answer for when you really need that extra push.

    Vikings offers three desktop computers. (ThinkPenguin also has desktops.)

  • Options of coming with the FSF-endorsed Trisquel or Parabola operating systems.
  • Choose between corebook and Libreboot.
  • Customize and specialize to your needs.
Stay away from: Intel Management Engine
  • Intel Management Engine is a little piece of firmware that performs various tasks while computers are booting, running, and sleeping. This poses a major security risk and threat to user freedom. While there's not actually anything that can be done about Intel ME at the moment, it's good to know what's lurking inside your computer.
  • Mandatory Windows updates force users to test potentially unstable new versions. Read more about Windows's abuses.

Wireless Adapters

  • Great for all-free-software installations on laptops with incompatible Wi-Fi hardware.
  • Certified to Respect Your Freedom.
  • Options from Technoethical and ThinkPenguin.
  • If you use a laptop listed in this guide, an adapter like this won't be necessary.
  • More powerful than its smaller cousin, and can be further upgraded with a larger antenna.
  • Certified to Respect Your Freedom.
  • Multiple options from Technoethical and ThinkPenguin.

3D Printers

LulzBot Mini

Get it from


    3D printers are just plain cool. As a learning and exploration tool, crafty way to make gifts (for yourself or your friend), and all around fun toy, the at-home 3D printer has come far from its origins in the early 2000s. Not only is the LulzBot Mini free, but there are loads of free software options for modeling, and communities sharing freely licensed designs.

  • Performance and seamless interface earned it "Editor's Choice" in Tom's Guide's 2016 3D printer comparison.
  • Hardware designs available to make customization easy. Standardized material format allows 3D printing with plastics, wood-, stone-, bamboo-, rubber-, and metal-like materials.
Stay away from: Makerbot
  • MakerWare software is proprietary, restricting freedom and stifling innovation.
  • MakerBot was founded with a more freedom-respecting philosophy, but has since announced an increasingly proprietary approach and distanced itself from the community that formed around it.

Books, Games, Music, and Video


DRM-free Ebooks

    There are a lot of options for where to get your literature fix without any pesky DRM. We're highlighting some publishers and shops who are offering deals for you!

  • Delphi Classics has a wide range of classic literature available in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Use the code fsfdelphi for 30% off orders over $10 through the end of December.
  • Ediciones Babylon can supply you with all of your Spanish language needs for comics, art, novellas, and novels. Use the code FSFDISCOUNTEB for 5% off all the way through March 2018.
  • No Starch Press, for educational, instructional, and howto books on everything from arduinos to system administration. Use the code ETHICTECH for 40% off through January 10th, 2018.
    Stay away from: Amazon
    • Amazon is one of the most notorious of DRM offenders. Whether it's their Kindle ereader or their countless DRM-encumbered ebooks, Amazon is the place to go if you want to lease, rather than own, your favorite texts.
    • Where's O'Reilly? While the publisher's ebooks are still available from third party sellers (in both DRM-free and DRM-encumbered formats), O'Reilly themselves stopped selling their DRM-free catalogue earlier in 2017.


DRM-free Games

    Gaming systems have adopted all sorts of DRM technologies--allowing gaming companies to limit your access to games and even the ability to brick whole systems. However, there's hope in the wide world of DRM-free games!

  • Good Old Games thinks you should not just be able to play with your friends, but share with them. They carry all kinds of games--action, adventure, RPGs, strategy games--and even movies specially for gamers.
  • Humble Bundle first made its name with pay-what-you-want DRM-free books, and have since expanded to a whole range of games.
  • We'd be remiss to not mention Nethack, a game well loved by many gamers and free software nerds. A classic roguelike with a classic, freedom respecting license, there's no reason to not feel good sharing this game.
    Stay away from: XBox
    • Over the years XBox has gone back and forth with their use of DRM with a current pro-DRM stance. It's best to just stay away since we can never tell when they're just going to change their minds
    • .
    • A quick note on Sony: The PlayStation 4 runs games DRM-free. However, there is enough non-free software running on the system that we cannot recommend it in good conscience.


DRM-free Music
    Stay away from: Spotify

    DRM is the unfortunate standard for so much of major music available. While spotify certainly isn't the only offender, they're the one we are choosing to highlight.

    In addition to streaming music encumbered by DRM, people who want to use Spotify are required to install additional proprietary software. Spotify's build for GNU/Linux is available as a Debian package that requires Debian non-free and comes with "onerous license conditions."


DRM-free Video

    As winter comes to the Northern Hemisphere, it's the perfect time to curl up under a blanket and watch some DRM-free video. In the Southern Hemisphere? Enjoy relaxing with a great movie actually owned by you.

    You can find your DRM-free video fix at places including:

  • ComedyDirect can help you laugh while storing your videos locally.
  • Moving Image Archive, thanks to, there are thousands of film releases available online.
  • Sintel, where you can find DRM-free films made with free software.
  • WolfeOnDemand, for a great selection of LGBTQ films.
Stay away from: Netflix

Recommended organizations for holiday donations


Respects Your Freedoms

The FSF certifies hardware as respecting your freedoms. There is a complete list of RYF products on

We would never recommend you use, run, or give proprietary software. However, one part of RYF certification is the promise that one can install any software they wish on the device. This includes proprietary software. Free software is about many things, including the right to choose what is on your device. We urge you to keep your gifts and own devices fully free--it's not only the responsible thing, but the right thing.


This page by the Free Software Foundation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported.

The graphics and photos used on this page have been modified by the Free Software Foundation and are licensed separately under the following terms: