Sustainable Software & Blauer Engel Eco-Certification


In 2020 the German government released the award criteria for obtaining eco-certification with the Blauer Engel label for desktop software. Categories for certification include energy efficiency, extending the potential operating life of hardware, and user autonomy … all of which fit seamlessly with Free & Open Source Software (FOSS). The Blauer Engel 4 FOSS (BE4FOSS) project from KDE e.V. seeks to collect, summarize, and spread information related to eco-certification and resource efficiency as it relates to FOSS development.

Free software means users and their communities have the freedom to control the software they use. These freedoms provide real choice: choice in what to install, or uninstall; options to modify software to run more, or less, efficiently; opting to continue support for older, but functioning, devices; and so on. Each of these choices has a cost and/or benefit. For instance, the more (unnecessary) processes a piece of software runs in the background, the more resources the hardware will need. Multiply such costs by hundreds of millions, or even billions, of computer users worldwide, and it quickly adds up.

In short, software efficiency means resource efficiency.

In this talk I will focus primarily on the energy consumption of software, which is also the focus of the Free & Open Source Software Energy Efficiency Project, or FEEP for short. I will walk the audience through the 3 steps for obtaining Blauer Engel certification: (1) Measure, (2) Analyze, (3) Certify. This 3-step workflow will be described in detail, with concrete examples from the KDE software KMail, Okular, and Krita, the first of which is currently under evaluation for certification. I will end the talk with an open call for community engagement, both specifically in applying for Blauer Engel certification and more generally in supporting a resource-efficient, free software future.

THIS PROJECT IS FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED BY: BMU (Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany). The publisher is responsible for the content of this publication.

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