What is Free Software?

Free software, also known as libre software, or open source software, is a type of software that can be used and modified by the software owner, as well as redistributed. Often it can be redistributed and sold by the person who made the changes, but it still needs to remain open source. Free software is not synonymous with “freeware”, which is software available for free use, but which may or may not be modified. This software is also sometimes free, but sometimes requires a fee to purchase; the “free” in the name refers to the fact that it can be used and changed freely.

Free software can be software of any kind and can be used by anyone who wants to install the software on their computer.

This type of software can also be referred to as open source software. All of these terms mean the same thing and simply refer to the fact that the software’s source code is available to every person who has the software on their computer. The source code of the software must remain available in the original version and in any modified version; if not, the software can no longer be considered free. Of course, people are free to make their own personal changes to the software and not share them with anyone else. Just because the freedom to do so exists doesn’t mean it’s necessary.

Free software can be software of any kind and can be used by anyone who wants to install the software on their computer. The Free Software Foundation was first developed in 1985 by Richard Stallman, and provides a list of four specific “freedoms” that help simplify the definition of free software. These are: “The freedom to run the program for any purpose”, “the freedom to study how the program works and change it to do what you want”, “the freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor” and “the freedom to improve the program and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, for the entire community to benefit.”

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In addition to the free software source code being publicly available, the software must also be accompanied by a free software license or other notice that provides additional permissions. A manual is also usually provided with the software, which is also usually updated by users making modifications. This type of software can be beneficial for individuals as well as larger groups or corporations because the software can be continually improved and customized based on the needs of the users.

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