Software Freedom | What is Free Software?

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Software Freedom Day

September 14, 2022 Free Software

Software Freedom Day is a public education effort to increase awareness of Free Software and its virtues, and to encourage its use. A worldwide annual celebration, Software Freedom Day was established in 2004 and was first observed on 28 August of that year. About 12 teams participated in the first Software Freedom Day. Since that time it has grown in popularity and every year we have more than 300 events organized by over 100 cities from around the world.

What is free software?

Free software is software that comes with permission for anyone to use, copy, and/or distribute, either verbatim or with modifications, either gratis or for a fee. In particular, this means that source code must be available. “If it's not source, it's not software.”

To use free software is to make a political and ethical choice asserting the right to learn, and share what we learn with others. Free software has become the foundation of a learning society where we share our knowledge in a way that others can build upon and enjoy.

The history of free software

The beginning of the free movement starts in the 1980s with the thinking of Richard Stallman on the sharing of computer knowledge and the work of computer programmers. He started to wonder the ethic of computer scientists confronted to the appropriation of computer knowledge by commercial actors.

Facing the emergence of privative practices, Richard Stallman developed the concept of free software, which will be later legally formalized thanks to the free license created by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The FSF fights to make sure that the user is able to control the computer system.

What are the advantages of free software?

1. Zero Cost

Open-source software is free, making it an appealing option for many users. Furthermore, since there are no licensing fees attached, companies can save money they would otherwise spend on license fees and upgrade charges. These cost savings enable businesses to invest in other types of technology or hire more employees instead of paying a high price for using certain types of commercial software.

2. Flexibility

Free software allows anyone to view, edit, and change the original program. If you are tech-savvy, this flexibility gives you the ability to customize programs to meet specific needs.

3. Transparency

Because anyone can view the code for open source software, companies can identify issues much faster than they would with commercial software that has undergone less testing and review. This type of transparency makes open-source users even more loyal because they know others value and appreciate their input.

4. Customization Options

Because free software is written in publicly available computer programming languages, anyone can access the code. Users can change and customize the existing features or add new ones without requesting permission from a third party. This type of customization gives them more control over their technology and makes it easier to carry out their tasks.

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