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[1] 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.[2] Stallman later established the Free Software Foundation in 1985 to support the movement.

Richard Matthew Stallman2.jpeg
Richard Stallman circa 2002, founder of the GNU Project and the free software movement.


The philosophy of the movement is that the use of computers should not lead to people being prevented from cooperating with each other. In practice, this means rejecting "proprietary software", which imposes such restrictions, and promoting free software,[3] with the ultimate goal of liberating everyone in cyberspace[4] – that is, every computer user. Stallman notes that this action will promote rather than hinder the progression of technology, since "it means that much wasteful duplication of system programming effort will be avoided. This effort can go instead into advancing the state of the art".[5]

Members of the free software movement believe that all users of software should have the freedoms listed in The Free Software Definition. Many of them hold that it is immoral to prohibit or prevent people from exercising these freedoms and that these freedoms are required to create a decent society where software users can help each other, and to have control over their computers.[6]

Some free software users and programmers do not believe that proprietary software is strictly immoral, citing an increased profitability in the business models available for proprietary software or technical features and convenience as their reasons.[7]

"While social change may occur as an unintended by-product of technological change, advocates of new technologies often have promoted them as instruments of positive social change." This quote by San Jose State professor Joel West explains much of the philosophy, or the reason that the free source movement is alive. If it is assumed that social change is not only affected, but in some points of view, directed by the advancement of technology, is it ethical to hold these technologies from certain people? If not to make a direct change, this movement is in place to raise awareness about the effects that take place because of the physical things around us. A computer, for instance, allows us so many more freedoms than we have without a computer, but should these technological mediums be implied freedoms, or selective privileges? The debate over the morality of both sides to the free software movement is a difficult topic to compromise respective opposition.[8]

The Free Software Foundation also believes all software needs free documentation, in particular because conscientious programmers should be able to update manuals to reflect modification that they made to the software, but deems the freedom to modify less important for other types of written works.[9] Within the free software movement, the FLOSS Manuals foundation specialises on the goal of providing such documentation. Members of the free software movement advocate that works which serve a practical purpose should also be free.[10]


Encerramento do FISL 16
GNU and Tux mascots around free software supporters at FISL 16

Writing and spreading free software

The core work of the free software movement focused on software development. The free software movement also rejects proprietary software, refusing to install software that does not give them the freedoms of free software. According to Stallman, "The only thing in the software field that is worse than an unauthorised copy of a proprietary program, is an authorised copy of the proprietary program because this does the same harm to its whole community of users, and in addition, usually the developer, the perpetrator of this evil, profits from it."[11]

Building awareness

Some supporters of the free software movement take up public speaking, or host a stall at software-related conferences to raise awareness of software freedom. This is seen as important since people who receive free software, but who are not aware that it is free software, will later accept a non-free replacement or will add software that is not free software.[12]

Ethical equality

Margaret S. Elliot, a researcher in the Institute for Software at the University of California Irvine, not only outlines many benefits that could come from a free software movement, she claims that it is inherently necessary to give every person equal opportunity to utilize the Internet, assuming that the computer is globally accessible. Since the world has become more based in the framework of technology and its advancement, creating a selective internet that allows only some to surf the web freely is nonsensical according to Elliot. If there is a desire to live in a more coexistent world that is benefited by communication and global assistance, then globally free software should be a position to strive for, according to many scholars who promote awareness about the free software movement. The ideas sparked by the GNU associates are an attempt to promote a "cooperative environment" that understands the benefits of having a local community and a global community.[13]


A lot of lobbying work has been done against software patents and expansions of copyright law. Other lobbying focusses directly on use of free software by government agencies and government-funded projects.

The Venezuelan government implemented a free software law in January 2006. Decree No. 3,390 mandated all government agencies to migrate to free software over a two-year period.[14]

Congressmen Edgar David Villanueva and Jacques Rodrich Ackerman have been instrumental in introducing free software in Peru, with bill 1609 on "Free Software in Public Administration".[15] The incident invited the attention of Microsoft Inc, Peru, whose general manager wrote a letter to Villanueva. His response received worldwide attention and is seen as a classic piece of argumentation favouring use of free software in governments.[16]

In the United States, there have been efforts to pass legislation at the state level encouraging use of free software by state government agencies.[17]


The free software movement has been extensively analyzed using economic methodologies, including perspectives from heterodox economics. Of particular interest to economists is the willingness of programmers in the free software movement to work, often producing higher-quality than commercial programmers, without financial compensation. In his 1998 article "The High-Tech Gift Economy," Richard Barbrook suggested that the then-nascent free software movement represented a return to the gift economy building on hobbyism and the absence of economic scarcity on the internet.[18] E. Gabriella Coleman has emphasized the importance of accreditation, respect, and honour within the free software community as a form of compensation for contributions to projects, over and against financial motivations.[19]

The Swedish Marxian economist Johan Söderberg has argued that the free software movement represents a complete alternative to Capitalism that may be expanded to create a post-work society. He argues that the combination of a manipulation of intellectual property law and private property to make goods available to the public and a thorough blend between labor and fun make the free software movement a communist economy.[20]

Subgroups and schisms

Like many social movements, the free software movement has ongoing internal conflict between the many FOSS organizations (FSF, OSI, Debian, Mozilla Foundation, Apache Foundation etc.) and their personalities. For instance there is disagreement about the amount of compromises and pragmatism needed versus the need for strict adherence to values.[21]

Open source

Although commercial free software was not uncommon at the time (see Cygnus Solutions for example), in 1998 after an announcement that Netscape would liberate their popular Web browser, a strategy session was held to develop a stronger business case for free software which would focus on technology rather than politics.[22] After this, Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens founded the Open Source Initiative (OSI) to promote the term "open source software" as an alternative term for free software. OSI wanted to address the perceived shortcomings in ambiguous "free software" term,[23][24][25] and some members of OSI in addition didn't follow the free software movement's focus on non-free software as a social and ethical problem; but instead focused on the advantages of open source as superior model for software development.[26] The latter became the view of people like Eric Raymond and Linus Torvalds, while Bruce Perens argues that open source was simply meant to popularize free software under a new brand, and even called for a return to the basic ethical principles.[27]

Some free software advocates use the term free and open-source software (FOSS) as an inclusive compromise, drawing on both philosophies to bring both free software advocates and open-source software advocates together to work on projects with more cohesion. Some users believe that a compromise term encompassing both aspects is ideal, to promote both the user's freedom with the software and also to promote the perceived superiority of an open-source-development model. This eclectic view is reinforced by the fact that the overwhelming majority of OSI-approved licenses and self-avowed open-source programs are also compatible with the free software formalisms and vice versa.[10]

While some people prefer to link the two ideas of "open-source software" and "free software" together, they offer two separate ideas and values. This ambiguity began in 1998 when people started to use the term "open-source software" rather than "free software". People in the community of free software used these separate terms as a way to differentiate what they did. Richard Stallman has called open source "a non-movement", because it "does not campaign for anything".[28] Open source addresses software being open as a practical question as opposed to an ethical dilemma. In other words, it focuses more on the development. The open-source movement ultimately determines that non-free software is not the solution of best interest but nonetheless a solution.[29][10]

On the other hand, the free software movement views free software as a moral imperative: that proprietary software should be rejected for selfish and social reasons, and that only free software should be developed and taught to cope with the task of making computing technology beneficial to humanity. It is argued that whatever economical or technical merits free software may have, those are byproducts stemming from the rights that free software developers and users must enjoy. An example of this would be the unlikelihood of free software being designed to mistreat or spy on users.[30] At the same time, the benefits purveyed by the open-source movement have been challenged both from inside and outside the free software movement. It is unclear whether free and open-source software actually leads to more performant and less vulnerable code, with researchers Robert Glass and Benjamin Mako Hill providing statistical insight that this is usually not the case.[31][32]

Regarding the meaning and misunderstandings of the word free, those who work within the free software camp have searched for less ambiguous terms and analogies like "free beer vs free speech" in efforts to convey the intended semantics, so that there is no confusion concerning the profitability of free software. The loan adjective libre has gained some traction in the English-speaking free software movement as unequivocally conveying the state of being in freedom that free software refers to. This is not considered schismatic; libre is seen as an alternative explanatory device. In fact, free software has always been unambiguously referred to as "libre software" (in translation) in languages where the word libre or a cognate is native. In India, where free software has gained a lot of ground,[33] the unambiguous term swatantra and its variants are widely used instead of "free".[34][35]

The free software movement rebuts that while "free" may be prone to confuse novices because of the duplicity of meanings, at least one of the meanings is completely accurate, and that it is hard to get it wrong once the difference has been learned. It is also ironically noted that "open source" isn't exempt of poor semantics either, as a misunderstanding arises whereby people think source code disclosure is enough to meet the open-source criteria, when in fact it is not.[10]

The switch from the free software movement to the open-source movement has had negative effects on the progression of community, according to Christopher Kelty who dedicates a scholarly chapter to the free software movements in "Theorizing Media and Practice". The open-source movement denies that selectivity and the privatization of software is unethical. Although the open-source movement is working towards the same social benefits as the free software movement, Kelty claims that by disregarding this fundamental belief of the free software advocates, one is destroying the overall argument. If it can be claimed that it is ethical to limit the internet and other technology to only users who have the means to use this software, then there is no argument against the way things are at the moment; there is no need to complain if all morality is in effect.[36]

Although the movements have separate values and goals, people in both the open-source community and free software community collaborate when it comes to practical projects.[37] By 2005, Richard Glass considered the differences to be a "serious fracture" but "vitally important to those on both sides of the fracture" and "of little importance to anyone else studying the movement from a software engineering perspective" since they have had "little effect on the field".[38]

Stallman and Torvalds

The two most prominent people associated with the movement, Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds, may be seen as representatives of the value based versus apolitical philosophies, as well as the GNU versus Linux coding styles. In the GNU/Linux naming controversy the FSF argues for the term GNU/Linux because GNU is a longstanding project to develop a free operating system, of which they assert the kernel was the last missing piece.[39]

Criticism and controversy

Should principles be compromised?

Eric Raymond criticises the speed at which the free software movement is progressing, suggesting that temporary compromises should be made for long-term gains. Raymond argues that this could raise awareness of the software and thus increase the free software movement's influence on relevant standards and legislation.[40]

Richard Stallman, on the other hand, sees the current level of compromise as a greater cause for worry.[21][41][42]

How will programmers get paid?

Stallman said that this is where people get the misconception of "free": there is no wrong in programmers' requesting payment for a proposed project. Restricting and controlling the user's decisions on use is the actual violation of freedom. Stallman defends that in some cases, monetary incentive is not necessary for motivation since the pleasure in expressing creativity is a reward in itself.[5] On the other hand, Stallman admits that is not easy to raise money for FOSS projects.[43]

"Viral" licensing

The free software movement champions copyleft licensing schema (often pejoratively called "viral licenses"). In its strongest form, copyleft mandates that any works derived from copyleft-licensed software must also carry a copyleft license, so the license spreads from work to work like a computer virus might spread from machine to machine. These licensing terms can only be enforced through asserting copyrights.[44] Critics of copyleft licensing challenge the idea that restricting modifications is in line with the free software movement's emphasis on various "freedoms," especially when alternatives like MIT, BSD, and Apache licenses are more permissive.[45][46] Proponents enjoy the assurance that copylefted work cannot usually be incorporated into non-free software projects.[47] They emphasize that copyleft licenses may not attach for all uses and that in any case, developers can simply choose not to use copyleft-licensed software.[48][49]

License proliferation and compatibility

FOSS license proliferation is a serious concern in the FOSS domain due to increased complexity of license compatibility considerations which limits and complicates source code reuse between FOSS projects.[50] The OSI and the FSF maintain own lists of dozens of existing and acceptable FOSS licenses.[51] There is an agreement among most that the creation of new licenses should be minimized at all cost and these created should be made compatible with the major existing FOSS licenses. Therefore, there was a strong controversy around the update of the GPLv2 to the GPLv3 in 2007,[52][53] as the updated license is not compatible with the previous version.[54][55][56] Several projects (mostly of the open source faction[53] like the Linux kernel[57][58]) decided to not adopt the GPLv3 while the GNU projects adopted the GPLv3.

See also


  1. ^ Richard Stallman on the nature of the Free software movement in 2008 on emacs-devel mailing list.
  2. ^ "Announcement of the GNU project".
  3. ^ "Use Free Software".
  4. ^ "Stallman interviewed by Sean Daly". Groklaw. 2006-06-23.
  5. ^ a b "The GNU Manifesto".
  6. ^ "Why free software?".
  7. ^ "Copyleft: Pragmatic Idealism".
  8. ^ "The Effect of Computerization Movements Upon Organizational Adoption of Open Source" (PDF). San Jose State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-01-17.
  9. ^ "Free Software and Free Manuals".
  10. ^ a b c d Stallman, Richard. "Why Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software". GNU Operating System. Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Transcript of Stallman on Free Software". FSFE. 2006-03-09.
  12. ^ "Transcript of Stallman speaking at WSIS". Ciarán O'Riordan.
  13. ^ "Mobilization of software developers" (PDF). Institute for Software Research.
  14. ^ "Free software liberates Venezuela". Free Software Magazine n°10. 2006-02-08.
  15. ^ "An English translation of the Free Software bill proposed in Peru".
  16. ^ "Peruvian Congressman Edgar Villanueva writing to Microsoft about free software". Archived from the original on 2007-08-29.
  17. ^ "Open source's new weapon: The law?".
  18. ^ Barbrook, Richard (1998). "The High-Tech Gift Economy". First Monday: Peer-Reviewed Journal on the Internet. 13 (12). Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  19. ^ Coleman (2013), p. 116-7.
  20. ^ Söderberg (2007), p. 153-4.
  21. ^ a b Pragmatism in the History of GNU, Linux and Free/Open Source Software Jun 9, 2015 Christopher Tozzi
  22. ^ "History of the OSI".
  23. ^ Eric S. Raymond. "Goodbye, "free software"; hello, "open source"". The problem with it is twofold. First, ... the term "free" is very ambiguous ... Second, the term makes a lot of corporate types nervous.
  24. ^ Kelty, Christpher M. (2008). "The Cultural Significance of free Software - Two Bits" (PDF). Duke University press - durham and london. p. 99. Prior to 1998, Free Software referred either to the Free Software Foundation (and the watchful, micromanaging eye of Stallman) or to one of thousands of different commercial, avocational, or university-research projects, processes, licenses, and ideologies that had a variety of names: sourceware, freeware, shareware, open software, public domain software, and so on. The term Open Source, by contrast, sought to encompass them all in one movement.
  25. ^ 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."
  26. ^ "Open Source misses the point".
  27. ^ Bruce Perens (17 February 1999). "It's Time to Talk About Free Software Again". Archived from the original on 16 July 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  28. ^ Gillin, Paul (2016-04-28). "GNU founder Stallman: 'Open source is not free software' - SiliconANGLE". SiliconANGLE. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  29. ^ Stallman, Richard. "Why 'Open Source' Misses the Point of Free Software | June 2009 | Communications of the ACM". Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  30. ^ Stallman, Richard. "Free Software Is Even More Important Now". Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  31. ^ Glass, Robert L. (2003). Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering. Addison-Wesley. p. 174. ISBN 0-321-11742-5. ISBN 978-0321117427.
  32. ^ Benjamin Mako Hill (19 November 2010). "When Free Software Isn't (Practically) Better". Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  33. ^ Bohannon, Mark. "India adopts a comprehensive open source policy". Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  34. ^ Truscello, Michael James Anthony (2005). The Technical Effect: Free and Open Source Software and the Programming of Everyday Life (Thesis). Waterloo, Ont., Canada, Canada: University of Waterloo.
  35. ^ Truscello, Michael (2007). "Free as in Swatantra: Free Software and Nationhood in India" (PDF). Wilfrid Laurier University.
  36. ^ theorizing media and practice. anthropology of media.
  37. ^ "Why "Free Software" is better than "Open Source"".
  38. ^ Richard Glass (2005), "Standing in Front of the Open Source Steamroller", in Joseph Feller; Brian Fitzgerald; Scott A. Hissam; Karim R. Lakahani, Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software, MIT Press, p. 89, ISBN 0262062461
  39. ^ "Linux and GNU - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)". Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  40. ^ Eric S. Raymond (2006-07-01). "ESR's "World Domination 201", on the need for more compromise by the free software movement". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  41. ^ "RMS on the progress of the movement and his worry about compromise".
  42. ^ "Richard Stallman on "World Domination 201"". I cannot agree to that compromise, and my experience teaches me that it won't be temporary. ... What our community needs most is more spine in rejection of non-free software. It has far too much willingness to compromise. ... To "argue" in favor of adding non-free software in GNU/Linux distros is almost superfluous, since that's what nearly all of them have already done.
  43. ^ "Interview with Richard Stallman". GNU/LAS s20e10. Linux action show. 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2014-08-22. RMS: I’m not gone to claim that I got a way to make it easier to raise money to pay people who write free software. We all know, that to some extent there are ways to do that, but we all know that they are limited, they are not as broad as we would like.
  44. ^ David McGowan (2005), "Legal Aspects of Free and Open Source Software", in Joseph Feller; Brian Fitzgerald; Scott A. Hissam; Karim R. Lakahani, Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software, MIT Press, p. 382, ISBN 0-262-06246-1
  45. ^ "Open Source Licensing Guide". New Media Rights. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  46. ^ Newbart, Dave (2001-06-01). "Microsoft CEO takes launch break with the Sun-Times". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2001-06-15.(Internet archive link)
  47. ^ Kirk St.Amant & Brian Still (2008). "Examining Open Source Software Licenses through the Creative Commons Licensing Model". Handbook of Research on Open Source Software: Technological, Economic, and Social Perspectives. Information Science Reference. pp. 382 of 728. ISBN 1-59140-999-3.
  48. ^ Byfield, Bruce (2006-08-29). "IT Manager's Journal: 10 Common Misunderstandings About the GPL". Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  49. ^ Poynder, Richard (21 March 2006). "The Basement Interviews: Freeing the Code". Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  50. ^ OSI and License Proliferation on by Martin Michlmayr "Too many different licenses makes it difficult for licensors to choose: it's difficult to choose a good license for a project because there are so many. Some licenses do not play well together: some open source licenses do not inter-operate well with other open source licenses, making it hard to incorporate code from other projects. Too many licenses makes it difficult to understand what you are agreeing to in a multi-license distribution: since a FOSS application typically contains code with different licenses and people use many applications which each contain one or several licenses, it's difficult to see what your obligations are." (on August 21st, 2008)
  51. ^ license-list
  52. ^ Mark (2008-05-08). "The Curse of Open Source License Proliferation". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-11-30. Currently the decision to move from GPL v2 to GPL v3 is being hotly debated by many open source projects. According to Palamida, a provider of IP compliance software, there have been roughly 2489 open source projects that have moved from GPL v2 to later versions.
  53. ^ a b McDougall, Paul (2007-07-10). "Linux Creator Calls GPLv3 Authors 'Hypocrites' As Open Source Debate Turns Nasty". Archived from the original on 2008-04-13. Retrieved 2015-02-12. [...]the latest sign of a growing schism in the open source community between business-minded developers like Torvalds and free software purists.
  54. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses – Is GPLv3 compatible with GPLv2?". Retrieved 3 June 2014. No. Some of the requirements in GPLv3, such as the requirement to provide Installation Information, do not exist in GPLv2. As a result, the licenses are not compatible: if you tried to combine code released under both these licenses, you would violate section 6 of GPLv2. However, if code is released under GPL “version 2 or later,” that is compatible with GPLv3 because GPLv3 is one of the options it permits.
  55. ^ Larabel, Michael (24 January 2013). "FSF Wastes Away Another "High Priority" Project". Phoronix. Archived from the original on 9 November 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2013. Both LibreCAD and FreeCAD both want to use LibreDWG and have patches available for supporting the DWG file format library, but can't integrate them. The programs have dependencies on the popular GPLv2 license while the Free Software Foundation will only let LibreDWG be licensed for GPLv3 use, not GPLv2.
  56. ^ Chisnall, David (2009-08-31). "The Failure of the GPL". Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  57. ^ Kerner, Sean Michael (2008-01-08). "Torvalds Still Keen On GPLv2". Retrieved 2015-02-12. "In some ways, Linux was the project that really made the split clear between what the FSF is pushing which is very different from what open source and Linux has always been about, which is more of a technical superiority instead of a -- this religious belief in freedom," Torvalds told Zemlin. So, the GPL Version 3 reflects the FSF's goals and the GPL Version 2 pretty closely matches what I think a license should do and so right now, Version 2 is where the kernel is."
  58. ^ corbet (2006-10-01). "Busy busy busybox". Retrieved 2015-11-21. Since BusyBox can be found in so many embedded systems, it finds itself at the core of the GPLv3 anti-DRM debate. [...]The real outcomes, however, are this: BusyBox will be GPLv2 only starting with the next release. It is generally accepted that stripping out the "or any later version" is legally defensible, and that the merging of other GPLv2-only code will force that issue in any case

Further reading

  • Coleman, E. Gabriella (2013). Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691144613.
  • David M. Berry, Copy, Rip, Burn: The Politics of Copyleft and Open Source, Pluto Press, 2008, ISBN 0-7453-2414-2
  • Johan Söderberg, Hacking Capitalism: The Free and Open Source Software Movement, Routledge, 2007, ISBN 0-415-95543-2

External links

David de Burgh Graham

David de Burgh Graham (born July 29, 1981) is an important player in the free software movement, a railfan, and a member of Parliament for the Liberal Party of Canada for the riding of Laurentides—Labelle.

Decentralization Coalition

Concertación Descentralista was a Peruvian electoral coalition established to contend in the 2006 national election. It comprises two national-level parties: the Partido por la Democracia Social - Compromiso Perú (PDS) and the Partido Movimiento Humanista Peruano (PMHP). It was formally announced on 10 December 2005, barely two days after both parties obtained formal recognition by the Jurado Nacional de Elecciones, the election process authority.

The PMHP won the regional elections of 2001 for the northern region of Lambayeque. The PDS made its electoral debut from within the coalition. The coalition candidate for the presidency was Susana Villarán.

The political discourse revolved around decentralization, both political and economic, poverty reduction and state reform.

The first polls where the coalition appeared gave it 3%, in sixth position overall. Surprisingly, the candidate scored only 0.6% and came in seventh place.

The Concertación Descentralista was a supporter of the free software movement.At the legislative elections held on 9 April 2006, the alliance won 0.9% of the popular vote but no seats in the Congress of the Republic.

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 Software Movement of India

Free Software Movement of India (FSMI) is a national coalition of various regional and sectoral free software movements operating in different parts of India. The formation of FSMI was announced in the valedictory function of the National Free Software Conference - 2010 held in Bangalore during 20–21 March 2010. FSMI is a pan Indian level initiative to propagate the ideology of free software and to popularize the usage of the free software. One of the declared aims of the movement is to take Free Software and its ideological implications to computer users “across the digital divide”, to under-privileged sections of society.Free Software movements in different states such as Swecha (in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Free Software Movement of Karnataka (FSMK), Democratic Alliance for Knowledge Freedom (DAKF) (Kerala), Free Software Foundation, Tamil Nadu (FSFTN) (Tamil Nadu) and FSMWB (West Bengal) are partnering with the coalition. Sectoral movements such as Knowledge Commons, Academics Initiative, OSGEO India and the National Consultative Committee of Computer Teachers (NCCCTA) joined the national coalition at the very initial stage itself.

FSMI differentiates itself from other organisations, forums or user groups in the free software domain by the method of movement building which is primarily grass root and mass movement.

Free Software Movement of Karnataka

Free Software Movement Karnataka (FSMK) is a non-profit organization working for spreading free software and its ideals. The movement is inspired by software freedom visionaries like Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen. A small organising team was created in 2007 and FSMK's formation was announced via several mailing lists on April 7, 2009. The Free Software Movement-Karnataka has a sizable number of followers in Bangalore and South Canara. FSMK has presence in six different districts across Karnataka, namely Bangalore, Mandya, Mysore, Hassan, Mangalore and Tumkur.

In the general body meeting conducted on 16 November 2014 in Bangalore Prof. Gopinath, Professor, Computer Science & Automation, IISc, was re-elected as President and Vikram Vincent, Research Scholar at IIT-Bombay, was elected as the new General Secretary. The first general secretary was Jaykumar H.S.FSMK is one of the member organizations of Free Software Movement of India.

Free license

A free license or open license is a license agreement which contains provisions that allow other individuals to reuse another creator's work, giving them four major freedoms. Without a special license, these uses are normally prohibited by copyright law or commercial license. Most free licenses are worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, and perpetual (see copyright durations). Free licenses are often the basis of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding projects.

The invention of the term "free license" and the focus on the rights of users were connected to the sharing traditions of the hacker culture of the 1970s public domain software ecosystem, the social and political free software movement (since 1980) and the open source movement (since the 1990s). These rights were codified by different groups and organizations for different domains in Free Software Definition, Open Source Definition, Debian Free Software Guidelines, Definition of Free Cultural Works and the The Open Definition. These definitions were then transformed into licenses, using the copyright as legal mechanism. Since then, ideas of free/open licenses spread into different spheres of society.

Open source, free culture (unified as free and open-source movement), anticopyright, Wikimedia Foundation projects, public domain advocacy groups and pirate parties are connected with free and open licenses.

Free software

Free software or libre software 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. 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. 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.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, 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, 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.

GNU Manifesto

The GNU Manifesto was written by Richard Stallman and published in March 1985 in Dr. Dobb's Journal of Software Tools as an explanation of goals of the GNU Project, and as a call for support and participation in developing GNU, a free software computer operating system. It is held in high regard within the free software movement as a fundamental philosophical source.The full text is included with GNU software such as Emacs, and is publicly available.

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.

Havoc Pennington

Robert Sanford Havoc Pennington (born c. 1976) is an American computer engineer and entrepreneur. He is known in the free software movement due to his work on HAL, GNOME, Metacity, GConf, and D-Bus.

Lean's Engine Reporter

Lean's Engine Reporter was founded in 1810 to publicize the performances of different Cornish engines used for mine pumping in Cornwall. The first Reporter of Duty was Joel Lean. The Reporter, published monthly, gave, for each engine and its pumps, the number of strokes (measured by a counter kept in a locked box), and the amount of coal used. From this, and sizes of the pumps, the engine duty was found: this was the number of pounds of water raised one foot by a bushel of coal. Between 1810 and 1840 this reporting, and competition between engineers, raised the duty from around 20 million to 90 million pounds, a much higher efficiency than found in engines elsewhere at the same time. The improvements were an increase in the steam pressure used, full expansion to low pressure, and insulation to avoid heat loss.

The Reporter continued to be published by various members of Lean's family until 1904.

This open competition between engineers has been suggested as an early precursor of the free software movement, in which people engaged in collaborative development of technical knowledge.

Mark Galassi

Mark Galassi is a physicist, computer scientist and contributor to the free software movement. He was born in Manhattan, grew up in France and Italy and currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Open-source-software movement

The open-source-software movement is a movement that supports the use of open-source licenses for some or all software, a part of the broader notion of open collaboration. The open-source movement was started to spread the concept/idea of open-source software.

Programmers who support the open-source-movement philosophy contribute to the open-source community by voluntarily writing and exchanging programming code for software development. The term "open source" requires that no one can discriminate against a group in not sharing the edited code or hinder others from editing their already-edited work. This approach to software development allows anyone to obtain and modify open-source code. These modifications are distributed back to the developers within the open-source community of people who are working with the software. In this way, the identities of all individuals participating in code modification are disclosed and the transformation of the code is documented over time. This method makes it difficult to establish ownership of a particular bit of code but is in keeping with the open-source-movement philosophy. These goals promote the production of high-quality programs as well as working cooperatively with other similarly-minded people to improve open-source technology. This led to software such as MediaWiki, the software with which the Wikipedia website is built.


OpenCores is a community developing digital open-source hardware through electronic design automation, with a similar ethos as the free software movement. OpenCores hopes to eliminate redundant design work and slash development costs. A number of companies have been reported as adopting OpenCores IP in chips, or as adjuncts to EDA tools. OpenCores is also cited from time to time in the electronics press as an example of open source in the electronics hardware community.OpenCores has always been a commercially owned organization. In 2015, the core active users of OpenCores established the independent Free and Open Source Silicon Foundation (FOSSi), and registered the website as the basis for all future development, independent of commercial control.

Open Source Initiative

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting open-source software.

The organization was founded in late February 1998 by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond, part of a group inspired by the Netscape Communications Corporation publishing the source code for its flagship Netscape Communicator product. Later, in August 1998, the organization added a board of directors.

Raymond was president from its founding until February 2005, followed briefly by Russ Nelson and then Michael Tiemann. In May 2012, the new board elected Simon Phipps as president and in May 2015 Allison Randal was elected as president when Phipps stepped down in preparation for the 2016 end of his Board term. Phipps became President again in September 2017.

Outline of free software

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to free software and the free software movement:

Free software – software which can be run, studied, examined, modified, and redistributed freely (without any cost). This type of software, which was given its name in 1983, has also come to be known as "open-source software", "software libre", "FOSS", and "FLOSS". The term "Free" refers to it being unfettered, rather than being free of charge.

Revolution OS

Revolution OS is a 2001 documentary film that traces the twenty-year history of GNU, Linux, open source, and the free software movement.

Directed by J. T. S. Moore, the film features interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneurs including Richard Stallman, Michael Tiemann, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, Frank Hecker and Brian Behlendorf.

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.

The Code (2001 film)

The Code is an English-language Finnish documentary about Linux from 2001, featuring some of the most influential people of the free software movement.

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