What is Free Software?
We are not talking about software that is free in terms of money. What free software means to me and many others has to do with freedom.
This type of software is licensed in a way that is friendly towards collaboration, openness and sharing. It’s software that gives the users the freedom to run the software for any purpose, as well as to study it, change it, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Because of this the source code must be freely available.
The Four Essential Freedoms
There are four essential freedoms for the users of free software. The freedom to...
- 0) run the program the way you want, for the purpose you want,
- 1) study how the program works,
- 2) redistribute copies to help others, and
- 3) improve the program by changing and/or improving the program and distribute it to others as a modified version.
Why Should you Support Free Software?
Free software stimulates collaboration and foster a community spirit. At least it has the potential and foundation for it. With free software you also have the opportunity to audit the code, modify the code to your needs and to contribute code to established projects out there. That is just a few examples that come to mind. Another thing is that by keeping the code open and giving people freedom to work with it, it stimulates learning and experimenting, boosting the potential to make great things available for everyone. Not reinventing the wheel and standing on the shoulders of giants. Sounds good?
What is the Difference Between Free Software and Open Source Software?
Open source software is just software that has the source code available. That doesn't mean you can use the code as you wish, or the way the four freedoms listed above states. Software that is licensed the way free software is, protects the freedom to use the code and improve it the way you want. And the changes you make can benefit others.
One of the most famous free software licenses is probably the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE, version 3 (GPLv3).