Free software

Free software or libre software[1][2] is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions.[3][4][5][6][7] Free software is a matter of liberty, not price: users—individually or in cooperation with computer programmers—are free to do what they want with their copies of a free software (including profiting from them) regardless of how much is paid to obtain the program.[8][2] Computer programs are deemed free insofar as they give users (not just the developer) ultimate control over the first, thereby allowing them to control what their devices are programmed to do.[5][9]

The right to study and modify a computer program entails that source code—the preferred format for making changes—be made available to users of that program. While this is often called 'access to source code' or 'public availability', the Free Software Foundation recommends against thinking in those terms,[10] because it might give the impression that users have an obligation (as opposed to a right) to give non-users a copy of the program.

Although the term free software had already been used loosely in the past,[11] Richard Stallman is credited with tying it to the sense under discussion and starting the free-software movement in 1983, when he launched the GNU Project: a collaborative effort to create a freedom-respecting operating system, and to revive the spirit of cooperation once prevalent among hackers during the early days of computing.[12][13]

Desktop-Linux-Mint
Example of a modern free-software operating system running some representative applications. Shown are the Xfce desktop environment, the Firefox web browser, the Vim text editor, the GIMP image editor, and the VLC media player.

Context

Open-source-vs-freeware
This Euler diagram describes the typical relationship between freeware and free and open-source software (FOSS): According to David Rosen from Wolfire Games in 2010, open source / free software (orange) is most often gratis but not always. Freeware (green) seldom expose their source code.[14]

Free software thus differs from:

For software under the purview of copyright to be free, it must carry a software license whereby the author grants users the aforementioned rights. Software that is not covered by copyright law, such as software in the public domain, is free as long as the source code is in the public domain too, or otherwise available without restrictions.

Proprietary software uses restrictive software licences or EULAs and usually does not provide users with the source code. Users are thus legally or technically prevented from changing the software, and this results on reliance on the publisher to provide updates, help, and support. (See also vendor lock-in and abandonware). Users often may not reverse engineer, modify, or redistribute proprietary software.[15][16] Beyond copyright law, contracts and lack of source code; there could be additional shenanigans keeping users from exercising freedom over a piece of software, such as software patents and digital rights management (more specifically, tivoization).[17]

It must be noted that free software can be a for-profit, commercial activity or not. Some free software is developed by volunteer computer programmers while other is developed by corporations; or even by both.[18][8]

Naming and differences with Open Source

Although both definitions refer to almost equivalent corpora of programs, the Free Software Foundation recommends using the term "free software" rather than "open-source software" (a younger vision coined in 1998), because the goals and messaging are quite dissimilar. "Open source" and its associated campaign mostly focus on the technicalities of the public development model and marketing free software to businesses, while taking the ethical issue of user rights very lightly or even antagonistically.[19] Stallman has also stated that considering the practical advantages of free software is like considering the practical advantages of not being handcuffed, in that it is not necessary for an individual to consider practical reasons in order to realize that being handcuffed is undesirable in itself.[20]

The FSF also notes that "Open Source" has exactly one specific meaning in common English, namely that "you can look at the source code." It states that while the term "Free Software" can lead to two different interpretations, at least one of them is consistent with the intended meaning unlike the term "Open Source".[a] The loan adjective "libre" is often used to avoid the ambiguity of the word "free" in English language, and the ambiguity with the older usage of "free software" as public-domain software.[11] See Gratis versus libre.

Definition and the Four Freedoms

Categories of free and nonfree software
Diagram of free and nonfree software, as defined by the Free Software Foundation. Left: free software, right: proprietary software, encircled: Gratis software

The first formal definition of free software was published by FSF in February 1986.[21] That definition, written by Richard Stallman, is still maintained today and states that software is free software if people who receive a copy of the software have the following four freedoms.[22][23] The numbering begins with zero, not only as a spoof on the common usage of zero-based numbering in programming languages, but also because "Freedom 0" was not initially included in the list, but later added first in the list as it was considered very important.

  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute and make copies so you can help your neighbor.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

Freedoms 1 and 3 require source code to be available because studying and modifying software without its source code can range from highly impractical to nearly impossible.

Thus, free software means that computer users have the freedom to cooperate with whom they choose, and to control the software they use. To summarize this into a remark distinguishing libre (freedom) software from gratis (zero price) software, the Free Software Foundation says: "Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in 'free speech', not as in 'free beer'".[22] See Gratis versus libre.

In the late 1990s, other groups published their own definitions that describe an almost identical set of software. The most notable are Debian Free Software Guidelines published in 1997,[24] and the Open Source Definition, published in 1998.

The BSD-based operating systems, such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD, do not have their own formal definitions of free software. Users of these systems generally find the same set of software to be acceptable, but sometimes see copyleft as restrictive. They generally advocate permissive free-software licenses, which allow others to use the software as they wish, without being legally forced to provide the source code. Their view is that this permissive approach is more free. The Kerberos, X11, and Apache software licenses are substantially similar in intent and implementation.

Examples

There are thousands of free applications and many operating systems available on the Internet. Users can easily download and install those applications via a package manager that comes included with most Linux distributions. The Free Software Directory maintains a large database of free-software packages. Some of the best-known examples include the Linux kernel, the BSD and Linux operating systems, the GNU Compiler Collection and C library; the MySQL relational database; the Apache web server; and the Sendmail mail transport agent. Other influential examples include the Emacs text editor; the GIMP raster drawing and image editor; the X Window System graphical-display system; the LibreOffice office suite; and the TeX and LaTeX typesetting systems.

Kscreen-krunner

Kscreen-krunner.png KDE Plasma desktop on Debian GNU/Linux.

Captura de pagina de manual de OpenSSL

Captura de pagina de manual de OpenSSL.png OpenSSL's manual page.

BgeCarSc

BgeCarSc.jpg Creating a 3D car racing game using the Blender Game Engine

Replicant 4.0 on NexusS

Replicant 4.0 on NexusS.png Replicant smartphone, an Android-based system that is 100% free software.

Libreoffice 5.3 writer MUFFIN interface

Libreoffice 5.3 writer MUFFIN interface.png Libreoffice is a free multi-platform office suite.

History

From the 1950s up until the early 1970s, it was normal for computer users to have the software freedoms associated with free software, which was typically public-domain software.[11] Software was commonly shared by individuals who used computers and by hardware manufacturers who welcomed the fact that people were making software that made their hardware useful. Organizations of users and suppliers, for example, SHARE, were formed to facilitate exchange of software. As software was often written in an interpreted language such as BASIC, the source code was distributed to use these programs. Software was also shared and distributed as printed source code (Type-in program) in computer magazines (like Creative Computing, SoftSide, Compute!, Byte etc) and books, like the bestseller BASIC Computer Games.[25] By the early 1970s, the picture changed: software costs were dramatically increasing, a growing software industry was competing with the hardware manufacturer's bundled software products (free in that the cost was included in the hardware cost), leased machines required software support while providing no revenue for software, and some customers able to better meet their own needs did not want the costs of "free" software bundled with hardware product costs. In United States vs. IBM, filed January 17, 1969, the government charged that bundled software was anti-competitive.[26] While some software might always be free, there would henceforth be a growing amount of software produced primarily for sale. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the software industry began using technical measures (such as only distributing binary copies of computer programs) to prevent computer users from being able to study or adapt the software applications as they saw fit. In 1980, copyright law was extended to computer programs.

In 1983, Richard Stallman, one of the original authors of the popular Emacs program and a longtime member of the hacker community at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, announced the GNU project, the purpose of which was to produce a completely non-proprietary Unix-compatible operating system, saying that he had become frustrated with the shift in climate surrounding the computer world and its users. In his initial declaration of the project and its purpose, he specifically cited as a motivation his opposition to being asked to agree to non-disclosure agreements and restrictive licenses which prohibited the free sharing of potentially profitable in-development software, a prohibition directly contrary to the traditional hacker ethic. Software development for the GNU operating system began in January 1984, and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) was founded in October 1985. He developed a free software definition and the concept of "copyleft", designed to ensure software freedom for all. Some non-software industries are beginning to use techniques similar to those used in free software development for their research and development process; scientists, for example, are looking towards more open development processes, and hardware such as microchips are beginning to be developed with specifications released under copyleft licenses (see the OpenCores project, for instance). Creative Commons and the free-culture movement have also been largely influenced by the free software movement.

1980s: Foundation of the GNU project

In 1983, Richard Stallman, longtime member of the hacker community at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, announced the GNU project, saying that he had become frustrated with the effects of the change in culture of the computer industry and its users.[27] Software development for the GNU operating system began in January 1984, and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) was founded in October 1985. An article outlining the project and its goals was published in March 1985 titled the GNU Manifesto. The manifesto included significant explanation of the GNU philosophy, Free Software Definition and "copyleft" ideas.

1990s: Release of the Linux kernel

The Linux kernel, started by Linus Torvalds, was released as freely modifiable source code in 1991. The first licence was a proprietary software licence. However, with version 0.12 in February 1992, he relicensed the project under the GNU General Public License.[28] Much like Unix, Torvalds' kernel attracted the attention of volunteer programmers. FreeBSD and NetBSD (both derived from 386BSD) were released as free software when the USL v. BSDi lawsuit was settled out of court in 1993. OpenBSD forked from NetBSD in 1995. Also in 1995, The Apache HTTP Server, commonly referred to as Apache, was released under the Apache License 1.0.

Licensing

Cc-sa
Copyleft, a novel use of copyright law to ensure that works remain unrestricted, originates in the world of free software.[29]

All free-software licenses must grant users all the freedoms discussed above. However, unless the applications' licenses are compatible, combining programs by mixing source code or directly linking binaries is problematic, because of license technicalities. Programs indirectly connected together may avoid this problem.

The majority of free software falls under a small set of licenses. The most popular of these licenses are:[30][31]

The Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative both publish lists of licenses that they find to comply with their own definitions of free software and open-source software respectively:

The FSF list is not prescriptive: free-software licenses can exist that the FSF has not heard about, or considered important enough to write about. So it's possible for a license to be free and not in the FSF list. The OSI list only lists licenses that have been submitted, considered and approved. All open-source licenses must meet the Open Source Definition in order to be officially recognized as open source software. Free software, on the other hand, is a more informal classification that does not rely on official recognition. Nevertheless, software licensed under licenses that do not meet the Free Software Definition cannot rightly be considered free software.

Apart from these two organizations, the Debian project is seen by some to provide useful advice on whether particular licenses comply with their Debian Free Software Guidelines. Debian doesn't publish a list of approved licenses, so its judgments have to be tracked by checking what software they have allowed into their software archives. That is summarized at the Debian web site.[32]

It is rare that a license announced as being in-compliance with the FSF guidelines does not also meet the Open Source Definition, although the reverse is not necessarily true (for example, the NASA Open Source Agreement is an OSI-approved license, but non-free according to FSF).

There are different categories of free software.

  • Public-domain software: the copyright has expired, the work was not copyrighted (released without copyright notice before 1988), or the author has released the software onto the public domain with a waiver statement (in countries where this is possible). Since public-domain software lacks copyright protection, it may be freely incorporated into any work, whether proprietary or free. The FSF recommends the CC0 public domain dedication for this purpose.[33]
  • Permissive licenses, also called BSD-style because they are applied to much of the software distributed with the BSD operating systems: these licenses are also known as copyfree as they have no restrictions on distribution.[34] The author retains copyright solely to disclaim warranty and require proper attribution of modified works, and permits redistribution and any modification, even closed-source ones. In this sense, a permissive license provides an incentive to create non-free software, by reducing the cost of developing restricted software. Since this is incompatible with the spirit of software freedom, many people consider permissive licenses to be less free than copyleft licenses.
  • Copyleft licenses, with the GNU General Public License being the most prominent: the author retains copyright and permits redistribution under the restriction that all such redistribution is licensed under the same license. Additions and modifications by others must also be licensed under the same "copyleft" license whenever they are distributed with part of the original licensed product. This is also known as a viral, protective, or reciprocal license. Due to the restriction on distribution not everyone considers this type of license to be free.[35][36]

Security and reliability

ClamTK3.08
Although nearly all computer viruses only affect Microsoft Windows,[37][38][39] antivirus software such as ClamAV (shown here) is still provided for GNU/Linux and other Unix-based systems, so that users can detect malware that might infect Windows hosts.

There is debate over the security of free software in comparison to proprietary software, with a major issue being security through obscurity. A popular quantitative test in computer security is to use relative counting of known unpatched security flaws. Generally, users of this method advise avoiding products that lack fixes for known security flaws, at least until a fix is available.

Free software advocates strongly believe that this methodology is biased by counting more vulnerabilities for the free software systems, since their source code is accessible and their community is more forthcoming about what problems exist,[40] (This is called "Security Through Disclosure"[41]) and proprietary software systems can have undisclosed societal drawbacks, such as disenfranchising less fortunate would-be users of free programs. As users can analyse and trace the source code, many more people with no commercial constraints can inspect the code and find bugs and loopholes than a corporation would find practicable. According to Richard Stallman, user access to the source code makes deploying free software with undesirable hidden spyware functionality far more difficult than for proprietary software.[42]

Some quantitative studies have been done on the subject.[43][44][45][46]

Binary blobs and other proprietary software

In 2006, OpenBSD started the first campaign against the use of binary blobs in kernels. Blobs are usually freely distributable device drivers for hardware from vendors that do not reveal driver source code to users or developers. This restricts the users' freedom effectively to modify the software and distribute modified versions. Also, since the blobs are undocumented and may have bugs, they pose a security risk to any operating system whose kernel includes them. The proclaimed aim of the campaign against blobs is to collect hardware documentation that allows developers to write free software drivers for that hardware, ultimately enabling all free operating systems to become or remain blob-free.

The issue of binary blobs in the Linux kernel and other device drivers motivated some developers in Ireland to launch gNewSense, a Linux based distribution with all the binary blobs removed. The project received support from the Free Software Foundation and stimulated the creation, headed by the Free Software Foundation Latin America, of the Linux-libre kernel.[47] As of October 2012, Trisquel is the most popular FSF endorsed Linux distribution ranked by Distrowatch (over 12 months).[48] While Debian is not endorsed by the FSF and does not use Linux-libre, it is also a popular distribution available without kernel blobs by default since 2011.[47]

Business model

Selling software under any free-software licence is permissible, as is commercial use. This is true for licenses with or without copyleft.[18][49][50]

Since free software may be freely redistributed, it is generally available at little or no fee. Free software business models are usually based on adding value such as customization, accompanying hardware, support, training, integration, or certification.[18] Exceptions exist however, where the user is charged to obtain a copy of the free application itself.[51]

Fees are usually charged for distribution on compact discs and bootable USB drives, or for services of installing or maintaining the operation of free software. Development of large, commercially used free software is often funded by a combination of user donations, crowdfunding, corporate contributions, and tax money. The SELinux project at the United States National Security Agency is an example of a federally funded free-software project.

Proprietary software, on the other hand, tends to use a different business model, where a customer of the proprietary application pays a fee for a license to legally access and use it. This license may grant the customer the ability to configure some or no parts of the software themselves. Often some level of support is included in the purchase of proprietary software, but additional support services (especially for enterprise applications) are usually available for an additional fee. Some proprietary software vendors will also customize software for a fee.[52]

The Free Software Foundation encourages selling free software. As the Foundation has written, "distributing free software is an opportunity to raise funds for development. Don't waste it!".[53] For example, the FSF's own recommended license (the GNU GPL) states that "[you] may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey, and you may offer support or warranty protection for a fee."[54]

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated in 2001 that "open source is not available to commercial companies. The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source."[55] This misunderstanding is based on a requirement of copyleft licenses (like the GPL) that if one distributes modified versions of software, they must release the source and use the same license. This requirement does not extend to other software from the same developer. The claim of incompatibility between commercial companies and Free Software is also a misunderstanding. There are several large companies, e.g. Red Hat and IBM, which do substantial commercial business in the development of Free Software.

Economical aspects and adoption

Free Software runs the world
Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Of the world's five hundred fastest supercomputers, 494 (98.8%) use the Linux kernel.[56] The world's second fastest computer is the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Titan supercomputer (illustrated), which uses the Cray Linux Environment.[57]

Free software played a significant part in the development of the Internet, the World Wide Web and the infrastructure of dot-com companies.[58][59] Free software allows users to cooperate in enhancing and refining the programs they use; free software is a pure public good rather than a private good. Companies that contribute to free software increase commercial innovation.[60]

The economic viability of free software has been recognized by large corporations such as IBM, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems.[63][64][65][66][67] Many companies whose core business is not in the IT sector choose free software for their Internet information and sales sites, due to the lower initial capital investment and ability to freely customize the application packages. Most companies in the software business include free software in their commercial products if the licenses allow that.[18]

Free software is generally available at no cost and can result in permanently lower TCO costs compared to proprietary software.[68] With free software, businesses can fit software to their specific needs by changing the software themselves or by hiring programmers to modify it for them. Free software often has no warranty, and more importantly, generally does not assign legal liability to anyone. However, warranties are permitted between any two parties upon the condition of the software and its usage. Such an agreement is made separately from the free software license.

A report by Standish Group estimates that adoption of free software has caused a drop in revenue to the proprietary software industry by about $60 billion per year.[69] In spite of this, Eric S. Raymond argues that the term free software is too ambiguous and intimidating for the business community. Raymond promotes the term open-source software as a friendlier alternative for the business and corporate world.[70]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Access to source code is a necessary but insufficient condition, according to both the Free Software and Open Source definitions.

References

  1. ^ See GNU Project. "What is Free Software". Free Software Foundation.
  2. ^ a b "Richard Stallman - Internet Hall of Fame". Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  3. ^ Free Software Movement (gnu.org)
  4. ^ Philosophy of the GNU Project (gnu.org)
  5. ^ a b What is free software (fsf.org)
  6. ^ "GNU Press - Free Software Foundation Online Shop - Buy GNU t-shirts, books, stickers and stuffed gnu toys". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Software Freedom Law Center".
  8. ^ a b Selling Free Software (gnu.org)
  9. ^ "GNU project Initial Announcement".
  10. ^ "gnu.org". www.gnu.org. Retrieved 2017-01-24.
  11. ^ a b c Shea, Tom (1983-06-23). "Free software - Free software is a junkyard of software spare parts". InfoWorld. Retrieved 2016-02-10. "In contrast to commercial software is a large and growing body of free software that exists in the public domain. Public-domain software is written by microcomputer hobbyists (also known as "hackers") many of whom are professional programmers in their work life. [...] Since everybody has access to source code, many routines have not only been used but dramatically improved by other programmers."
  12. ^ Levi, Ran. "Richard Stallman and The History of Free Software and Open Source". Curious Minds Podcast. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  13. ^ Amit Garg, Ryan Burdett, Ishaan Shastri, Evan Parker. "GNU". cs.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2017-10-17.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  14. ^ Rosen, David (May 16, 2010). "Open-source software is not always freeware". wolfire.com. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  15. ^ Dixon, Rod (2004). Open Source Software Law. Artech House. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-58053-719-3. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  16. ^ Graham, Lawrence D. (1999). Legal battles that shaped the computer industry. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-56720-178-9. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  17. ^ Sullivan, John (17 July 2008). "The Last Mile is Always the Hardest". fsf.org. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  18. ^ a b c d Popp, Dr. Karl Michael (2015). Best Practices for commercial use of open source software. Norderstedt, Germany: Books on Demand. ISBN 978-3738619096.
  19. ^ "Why "Open Source" misses the point of Free Software".
  20. ^ Stallman, Richard (2013-05-14). "The advantages of free software". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  21. ^ "GNU's Bulletin, Volume 1 Number 1, page 8".
  22. ^ a b Free Software Foundation. "What is free software?". Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  23. ^ "Four Freedoms - FSFE". fsfe.org.
  24. ^ Perens, Bruce. "Debian's "Social Contract" with the Free Software Community". debian-announce mailing list.
  25. ^ Ahl, David. "David H. Ahl biography from Who's Who in America". Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  26. ^ Fisher, Franklin M.; McKie, James W.; Mancke, Richard B. (1983). IBM and the U.S. Data Processing Industry: An Economic History. Praeger. ISBN 0-03-063059-2.
  27. ^ William 2002
  28. ^ "Release notes for Linux kernel 0.12". Kernel.org.
  29. ^ Carver, Brian W. (2005-04-05). "Share and Share Alike: Understanding and Enforcing Open Source and Free Software Licenses". Berkeley Technology Law Journal. 20: 39.
  30. ^ "Top 20 licenses". Black Duck Software. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015. 1. MIT license 24%, 2. GNU General Public License (GPL) 2.0 23%, 3. Apache License 16%, 4. GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0 9%, 5. BSD License 2.0 (3-clause, New or Revised) License 6%, 6. GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1 5%, 7. Artistic License (Perl) 4%, 8. GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 3.0 2%, 9. Microsoft Public License 2%, 10. Eclipse Public License (EPL) 2%
  31. ^ Balter, Ben (2015-03-09). "Open source license usage on GitHub.com". github.com. Retrieved 2015-11-21. "1 MIT 44.69%, 2 Other 15.68%, 3 GPLv2 12.96%, 4 Apache 11.19%, 5 GPLv3 8.88%, 6 BSD 3-clause 4.53%, 7 Unlicense 1.87%, 8 BSD 2-clause 1.70%, 9 LGPLv3 1.30%, 10 AGPLv3 1.05%
  32. ^ "Debian -- License information". Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  33. ^ "Various Licenses and Comments about Them". gnu.org. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  34. ^ "CI: Main". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  35. ^ "Why Not Use the GPL? Thoughts on Free and Open-Source Software". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  36. ^ "Journey into the minds of strangers". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  37. ^ Mookhey, K.K.; Burghate, Nilesh (2005). Linux: Security, Audit and Control Features. ISACA. p. 128. ISBN 9781893209787.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  38. ^ Toxen, Bob (2003). Real World Linux Security: Intrusion Prevention, Detection, and Recovery. Prentice Hall Professional. p. 365. ISBN 9780130464569.
  39. ^ Noyes, Katherine (Aug 3, 2010). "Why Linux Is More Secure Than Windows". PCWorld. Archived from the original on 2013-09-01.
  40. ^ "Firefox more secure than MSIE after all". News.com.
  41. ^ "The Benefits of Open Source". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  42. ^ "Transcript where Stallman explains about spyware".
  43. ^ David A. Wheeler: Why Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS, FLOSS, or FOSS)? Look at the Numbers! 2007
  44. ^ Michelle Delio: Linux: Fewer Bugs Than Rivals Wired.com 2004
  45. ^ Barton P. Miller; David Koski; Cjin Pheow Lee; Vivekananda Maganty; Ravi Murthy; Ajitkumar Natarajan; Jeff Steidl (October 1995). "Fuzz Revisited: A Re-examination of the Reliability of UNIX Utilities and Services" (PDF). Madison, WI 53706-1685 USA: University of Wisconsin: Computer Sciences Department. Archived from the original (pdf) on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2013. ...The reliability of the basic utilities from GNU and Linux were noticeably better than those of the commercial systems [sic]
  46. ^ Barton P. Miller; Gregory Cooksey; Fredrick Moore (20 July 2006). "An Empirical Study of the Robustness of MacOS Applications Using Random Testing" (PDF). Madison, WI 53706-1685 USA: University of Wisconsin: Computer Sciences Department: 1, 2. Archived from the original (pdf) on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2013. We are back again, this time testing... Apple’s Mac OS X. [...] While the results were reasonable, we were disappointed to find that the reliability was no better than that of the Linux/GNU tools tested in 1995. We were less sure what to expect when testing the GUI- based applications; the results turned out worse than we expected.
  47. ^ a b "Links to Other Free Software Sites - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  48. ^ "DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking". DistroWatch. 30 October 2012. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  49. ^ "BSD license definition". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  50. ^ "Why you should use a BSD style license for your Open Source Project". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  51. ^ "[libreplanet-discuss] Is there any software that is libre but not gratis".
  52. ^ Andy Dornan. "The Five Open Source Business Models". Archived from the original on October 10, 2009.
  53. ^ Selling Free Software gnu.org
  54. ^ GNU General Public License, section 4. gnu.org
  55. ^ "Ballmer calling open source a 'cancer', saying it's "not available to commercial companies"". Archived from the original on 2001-06-15. Retrieved 2001-06-15.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) Chicago Sun-Times, 2001
  56. ^ "Top500 - List Statistics - November 2015". Top500.org. Retrieved 29 May 2016..
  57. ^ "Roadrunner - BladeCenter QS22/LS21 Cluster, PowerXCell 8i 3.2 GHz / Opteron DC 1.8 GHz, Voltaire Infiniband". Top500.org. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  58. ^ Netcraft. "Web Server Usage Survey".
  59. ^ The Apache Software Foundation. "Apache Strategy in the New Economy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-16.
  60. ^ Waring, Teresa; Maddocks, Philip (1 October 2005). "Open Source Software implementation in the UK public sector: Evidence from the field and implications for the future". International Journal of Information Management. 25 (5): 411–428. doi:10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2005.06.002. In addition OSS’s development process is creating innovative products that are reliable, secure, practical and have high usability and performance ratings. Users are now not only benefiting from the OSS revolution but also from the improved proprietary software development that is being forced upon suppliers in order to maintain competitive advantage.
  61. ^ Gunter, Joel (May 10, 2013). "International Space Station to boldly go with Linux over Windows". The Telegraph.
  62. ^ Bridgewater, Adrian (May 13, 2013). "International Space Station adopts Debian Linux, drops Windows & Red Hat into airlock". Computer Weekly.
  63. ^ "IBM launches biggest Linux lineup ever". IBM. 1999-03-02. Archived from the original on 1999-11-10.
  64. ^ Hamid, Farrah (2006-05-24). "IBM invests in Brazil Linux Tech Center". LWN.net.
  65. ^ "Interview: The Eclipse code donation". IBM. 2001-11-01. Archived from the original on 2009-12-18.
  66. ^ "Sun begins releasing Java under the GPL". Free Software Foundation. November 15, 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  67. ^ Rishab Aiyer Ghosh (November 20, 2006). "Study on the: Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU" (PDF). European Union. p. 51. Retrieved 2007-01-25.
  68. ^ "Total cost of ownership of open source software: a report for the UK Cabinet Office supported by OpenForum Europe". Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  69. ^ "Open Source". Standish Newsroom. Standishgroup.com. 2008-04-16. Archived from the original on 2012-01-18. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  70. ^ Eric S. Raymond. "Eric S. Raymond's initial call to start using the term open source software, instead of free software".

Further reading

External links

Definition and philosophy
Presentations
Software
Comparison of free and open-source software licenses

This is a comparison of published free software licenses and open-source licenses. The comparison only covers software licenses with a linked article for details, approved by at least one expert group at the FSF, the OSI, the Debian project or the Fedora project. For a list of licenses not specifically intended for software, see List of free content licenses.

Comparison of free software for audio

This list of free software for audio lists notable free and open source software for use by sound engineers, audio producers, and those involved in sound recording and reproduction.

Copyleft

Copyleft, distinguished from copyright, is the practice of offering people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a work with the stipulation that the same rights be preserved in derivative works created later. Copyleft software licenses are considered protective or reciprocal, as contrasted with permissive free-software licenses.Copyleft is a form of licensing, and can be used to maintain copyright conditions for works ranging from computer software, to documents, to art, to scientific discoveries and instruments in medicine. In general, copyright law is used by an author to prohibit recipients from reproducing, adapting, or distributing copies of their work. In contrast, under copyleft, an author must give every person who receives a copy of the work permission to reproduce, adapt, or distribute it, with the accompanying requirement that any resulting copies or adaptations are also bound by the same licensing agreement.

Copyleft licenses for software require that information necessary for reproducing and modifying the work must be made available to recipients of the binaries. The source code files will usually contain a copy of the license terms and acknowledge the authors.

Copyleft type licenses are a novel use of existing copyright law to ensure a work remains freely available. The GNU General Public License (GPL), originally written by Richard Stallman, was the first software copyleft license to see extensive use, and continues to dominate in that area. Creative Commons, a non-profit organization founded by Lawrence Lessig, provides a similar license-provision condition called share-alike.

Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on 4 October 1985 to support the free software movement, which promotes the universal freedom to study, distribute, create, and modify computer software, with the organization's preference for software being distributed under copyleft ("share alike") terms, such as with its own GNU General Public License. The FSF was incorporated in Massachusetts, US, where it is also based.From its founding until the mid-1990s, FSF's funds were mostly used to employ software developers to write free software for the GNU Project. Since the mid-1990s, the FSF's employees and volunteers have mostly worked on legal and structural issues for the free software movement and the free software community.

Consistent with its goals, the FSF aims to use only free software on its own computers.

Free and open-source software

Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that can be classified as both free software and open-source software. That is, anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to voluntarily improve the design of the software. This is in contrast to proprietary software, where the software is under restrictive copyright licensing and the source code is usually hidden from the users.

FOSS maintains the software user's civil liberty rights (see the Four Essential Freedoms, below). Other benefits of using FOSS can include decreased software costs, increased security and stability (especially in regard to malware), protecting privacy, education, and giving users more control over their own hardware. Free and open-source operating systems such as Linux and descendants of BSD are widely utilized today, powering millions of servers, desktops, smartphones (e.g. Android), and other devices. Free-software licenses and open-source licenses are used by many software packages. The free-software movement and the open-source software movement are online social movements behind widespread production and adoption of FOSS.

Free content

Free content, libre content, or free information, is any kind of functional work, work of art, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work.

Free software license

A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that software. These actions are usually prohibited by copyright law, but the rights-holder (usually the author) of a piece of software can remove these restrictions by accompanying the software with a software license which grants the recipient these rights. Software using such a license is free software (or free and open-source software) as conferred by the copyright holder. Free-software licenses are applied to software in source code and also binary object-code form, as the copyright law recognizes both forms.

Free software movement

The free software movement (FSM) or free/open-source software movement (FOSSM) or free/libre open-source software movement (FLOSSM) is a social movement with the goal of obtaining and guaranteeing certain freedoms for software users, namely the freedom to run the software, to study and change the software, and to redistribute copies with or without changes. Although drawing on traditions and philosophies among members of the 1970s hacker culture and academia, Richard Stallman formally founded the movement in 1983 by launching the GNU Project. Stallman later established the Free Software Foundation in 1985 to support the movement.

GNU

GNU (listen) is an operating system and an extensive collection of computer software. GNU is composed wholly of free software, most of which is licensed under the GNU Project's own General Public License (GPL).

GNU is a recursive acronym for "GNU's Not Unix!", chosen because GNU's design is Unix-like, but differs from Unix by being free software and containing no Unix code.

The GNU project includes an operating system kernel, GNU Hurd, which was the original focus of the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

However, given the Hurd kernel's status as not yet production-ready, non-GNU kernels, most popularly the Linux kernel, can also be used with GNU software. The combination of GNU and Linux has become ubiquitous to the point that the duo is often referred to as just "Linux" in short, or, less frequently, GNU/Linux. (see the GNU/Linux naming controversy)

Richard Stallman, the founder of the project, views GNU as a "technical means to a social end". Relatedly Lawrence Lessig states in his introduction to the second edition of Stallman's book Free Software, Free Society that in it Stallman has written about "the social aspects of software and how Free Software can create community and social justice".

GNU General Public License

The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or GPL) is a widely-used free software license, which guarantees end users the freedom to run, study, share and modify the software. The license was originally written by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the GNU Project, and grants the recipients of a computer program the rights of the Free Software Definition. The GPL is a copyleft license, which means that derivative work can only be distributed under the same license terms. This is in distinction to permissive free software licenses, of which the BSD licenses and the MIT License are widely-used examples. GPL was the first copyleft license for general use.

Historically, the GPL license family has been one of the most popular software licenses in the free and open-source software domain. Prominent free-software programs licensed under the GPL include the Linux kernel and the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). David A. Wheeler argues that the copyleft provided by the GPL was crucial to the success of Linux-based systems, giving the programmers who contributed to the kernel the assurance that their work would benefit the whole world and remain free, rather than being exploited by software companies that would not have to give anything back to the community.In 2007, the third version of the license (GNU GPLv3) was released to address some perceived problems with the second version (GNU GPLv2) that were discovered during its long-time usage. To keep the license up to date, the GPL license includes an optional "any later version" clause, allowing users to choose between the original terms or the terms in new versions as updated by the FSF. Developers can omit it when licensing their software; for instance the Linux kernel is licensed under GPLv2 without the "any later version" clause.

GNU Project

The GNU Project ( (listen)) is a free-software, mass-collaboration project, first announced on September 27, 1983 by Richard Stallman at MIT. Its aim is to give computer users freedom and control in their use of their computers and computing devices, by collaboratively developing and providing software that is based on the following freedom rights: users are free to run the software, share it (copy, distribute), study it and modify it. GNU software guarantees these freedom-rights legally (via its license), and is therefore free software; the use of the word "free" always being taken to refer to freedom.

In order to ensure that the entire software of a computer grants its users all freedom rights (use, share, study, modify), even the most fundamental and important part, the operating system (including all its numerous utility programs), needed to be free software. According to its manifesto, the founding goal of the project was to build a free operating system and, if possible, "everything useful that normally comes with a Unix system so that one could get along without any software that is not free." Stallman decided to call this operating system GNU (a recursive acronym meaning "GNU's not Unix"), basing its design on that of Unix, a proprietary operating system. Development was initiated in January 1984. In 1991, the Linux kernel appeared, developed outside the GNU project by Linus Torvalds, and in December 1992 it was made available under version 2 of the GNU General Public License. Combined with the operating system utilities already developed by the GNU project, it allowed for the first operating system that was free software, commonly known as Linux.The project's current work includes software development, awareness building, political campaigning and sharing of the new material.

Gratis versus libre

The English adjective free is commonly used in one of two meanings: "for free" (gratis) and "with little or no restriction" (libre). This ambiguity of free can cause issues where the distinction is important, as it often is in dealing with laws concerning the use of information, such as copyright and patents.

The terms gratis and libre may be used to categorise intellectual property, particularly computer programs, according to the licenses and legal restrictions that cover them, in the free software and open source communities, as well as the broader free culture movement. For example, they are used to distinguish freeware (software gratis) from free software (software libre).

Richard Stallman summarised the difference in a slogan: "Think free as in free speech, not free beer."

Open-source software

Open-source software (OSS) is a type of computer software in which source code is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner. Open-source software is a prominent example of open collaboration.Open-source software development generates an increasingly more diverse scope of design perspective than any company is capable of developing and sustaining long term. A 2008 report by the Standish Group stated that adoption of open-source software models have resulted in savings of about $60 billion (£48 billion) per year for consumers.

Open source

Open source is a term denoting that a product includes permission to use its source code, design documents, or content. It most commonly refers to the open-source model, in which open-source software or other products are released under an open-source license as part of the open-source-software movement. Use of the term originated with software, but has expanded beyond the software sector to cover other open content and forms of open collaboration.

Permissive software license

A permissive software license, sometimes also called BSD-like or BSD-style license, is a free-software license with minimal requirements about how the software can be redistributed. Examples include the MIT License, BSD licenses, Apple Public Source License and the Apache license. As of 2016, the most popular free-software license is the permissive MIT license.

Proprietary software

Proprietary software, also known as "closed-source software", is a non-free computer software for which the software's publisher or another person retains intellectual property rights—usually copyright of the source code, but sometimes patent rights.

Richard Stallman

Richard Matthew Stallman (; born March 16, 1953), often known by his initials, RMS, is an American free software movement activist and programmer. He campaigns for software to be distributed in a manner such that its users receive the freedoms to use, study, distribute and modify that software. Software that ensures these freedoms is termed free software. Stallman launched the GNU Project, founded the Free Software Foundation, developed the GNU Compiler Collection and GNU Emacs, and wrote the GNU General Public License.

Stallman launched the GNU Project in September 1983 to create a Unix-like computer operating system composed entirely of free software. With this, he also launched the free software movement. He has been the GNU project's lead architect and organizer, and developed a number of pieces of widely used GNU software including, among others, the GNU Compiler Collection, the GNU Debugger and the GNU Emacs text editor. In October 1985 he founded the Free Software Foundation.

Stallman pioneered the concept of copyleft, which uses the principles of copyright law to preserve the right to use, modify and distribute free software, and is the main author of free software licenses which describe those terms, most notably the GNU General Public License (GPL), the most widely used free software license.In 1989, he co-founded the League for Programming Freedom. Since the mid-1990s, Stallman had spent most of his time advocating for free software, as well as campaigning against software patents, digital rights management (which he referred to as digital restrictions management, calling the more common term misleading), and other legal and technical systems which he sees as taking away users' freedoms. This has included software license agreements, non-disclosure agreements, activation keys, dongles, copy restriction, proprietary formats and binary executables without source code.

Software categories

Software categories are groups of software. They allow software to be understood in terms of those categories instead of the particularities of each package. Different classification schemes consider different aspects of software.

The Free Software Definition

The Free Software Definition written by Richard Stallman and published by Free Software Foundation (FSF), defines free software as being software that ensures that the end users have freedom in using, studying, sharing and modifying that software. The term "free" is used in the sense of "free speech," not of "free of charge." The earliest-known publication of the definition was in the February 1986 edition of the now-discontinued GNU's Bulletin publication of FSF. The canonical source for the document is in the philosophy section of the GNU Project website. As of April 2008, it is published there in 39 languages. FSF publishes a list of licences which meet this definition.

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