This document provides a short explanation of what Free Software is, the concepts behind it, it's importance, and how and why it is better.
What is Free Software?
Free software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions only to ensure that further recipients can also do these things. Free software put you in control of your software. Software is considered "free" if it gives you the following four freedoms:
- Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program at any time.
- Freedom 1: The freedom to study and modify the program.
- Freedom 2: The freedom to distribute the original program.
- Freedom 3: The freedom to distribute your version of the program.
There are many free software licenses, but they all follow those four basic freedoms.
Free Software is often referred to by a few alternative names. They all mean free software, but for one reason or another, chose go by another name. You will hear, Open Source, Libre, FOSS, and FLOSS. Open Source and the associated marketing campaign focuses on technical issues and avoids talking about the value of freedom. "Libre" is used to avoid the ambiguity of the word "free". However, libre is mostly used within the free software movement. FOSS stands for Free and Open Source Software but that is being replaced by FLOSS which ties them all in and stands for, Free, Libre, and Open Source Software.
* Plus other applications to content, design, music, hardware, government, anything.
Problems with Proprietary software
What advantages does Free Software have?
Free software has several advantages over proprietary, paid-for software. These are expanded below, and include freedom for users and developers, security, flexibility, evolution, support, environmental factors, and cost.
When you install a piece of software, you must accept a "license agreement", which defines what you may legally do with that software. With paid-for software, this agreement is present to restrict your rights. It usually forbids the user from making any change to the software beyond the built-in options and from distributing copies without paying a fee to the copyright owner. With free software, the agreement exists to preserve the user's rights while ensuring that the software still does what it claims to do. To achieve this, it allows you to give copies of the software to anyone you wish, and to make any changes to it that you want to. However, if you make a change and pass on your altered copy, you have to let anyone to pass it on to know that it is not the original product, so that they know what they are getting.
Security & Stability
The fact that any user may make a change to the program means that if a programmer not on the development team finds a bug and a way to fix it, they can make the change easily and submit it back to the developers for possible inclusion in the main release. This means that fixes for problems with the software tend to be fixed faster than with proprietary software.
Compatibility & Interoperability
Speed & Efficiency
Evolution & Innovation
Cost & Savings
Free Software for You
See how free software is better for you
- Media Producers
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