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DISPONIBILI
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ARTICLES IN THE BOOK

  1. Academic Free License
  2. Adaptive Public License
  3. Advogato
  4. Affero General Public License
  5. Africa Source
  6. AKademy
  7. Alternative terms for free software
  8. Anti-copyright notice
  9. Apache License
  10. Apache Software Foundation
  11. APESOL
  12. Apple Public Source License
  13. Artistic License
  14. Association For Free Software
  15. August Penguin
  16. Benetech
  17. Benevolent Dictator for Life
  18. BerliOS
  19. Binary blob
  20. BK02
  21. Blender Foundation
  22. Bruce Perens' Open Source Series
  23. BSD licenses
  24. CeCILL
  25. CE Linux Forum
  26. Clarkson Open Source Institute
  27. Code Breakers
  28. CodePlex
  29. Collaborative software development model
  30. Collaborative Source license
  31. Common Development and Distribution License
  32. Common Public License
  33. Comparison of free software hosting facilities
  34. CONSOL
  35. Copycenter
  36. Copyleft
  37. Creative Commons licenses
  38. Debconf
  39. Debian Free Software Guidelines
  40. Debian Manifesto
  41. Desktop Developers' Conference
  42. Eclipse Foundation
  43. Eclipse Public License
  44. Enterprise open source journal
  45. European Union Public Licence
  46. Everybody Loves Eric Raymond
  47. Forum Internacional Software Livre
  48. Fedora Project
  49. FOSDEM
  50. FOSS.IN
  51. Fossap
  52. Frameworx License
  53. Free content
  54. Free Culture movement
  55. Freedesktop.org
  56. Freely redistributable software
  57. Freepository
  58. Free software
  59. Free Software Award for Projects of Social Benefit
  60. Free software community
  61. Free Software Directory
  62. Free Software Foundation
  63. Free Software Foundation Europe
  64. Free Software Foundation Latin America
  65. Free Software Foundation of India
  66. Free Software Initiative of Japan
  67. Free software license
  68. Free Software Magazine
  69. Free software movement
  70. Free Software Song
  71. Free Standards Group
  72. FSF Award for the Advancement of Free Software
  73. GCC Summit
  74. Gna.org
  75. GNAT Modified General Public License
  76. Gnits Standards
  77. GnomeFiles
  78. GNOME Foundation
  79. GNU Coding Standards
  80. GNU Free Documentation License
  81. GNU General Public License
  82. GNU Lesser General Public License
  83. GNU Manifesto
  84. GNU Savannah
  85. GNU Simpler Free Documentation License
  86. Google Code
  87. Google Summer of Code
  88. Go Open Source
  89. GRASS GIS
  90. Gratis versus Libre
  91. Groklaw
  92. GUADEC
  93. Halloween documents
  94. Hamakor
  95. Historical Permission Notice and Disclaimer
  96. Homesteading the Noosphere
  97. Hurd User Group
  98. IBM Public License
  99. IBM Type-III Library
  100. Intel Open Source License
  101. International Open Source Network
  102. Irish Free Software Organisation
  103. ISC licence
  104. Jargon File
  105. Jimbo Wales
  106. KDE Dot News
  107. KernelTrap
  108. LAMP
  109. LaTeX Project Public License
  110. League for Programming Freedom
  111. Leonard H. Tower Jr.
  112. libpng
  113. Libre Software Meeting
  114. Linus's Law
  115. Linus Torvalds
  116. Linux.conf.au
  117. Linux conference
  118. Linux Expo
  119. Linux Gazette
  120. Linux International
  121. Linux Journal
  122. Linux Kongress
  123. Linux naming controversy
  124. LinuxQuestions.org
  125. LinuxTag
  126. Linux User Group
  127. LinuxWorld Conference and Expo
  128. List of software that uses the MIT License
  129. LiveJournal
  130. Lucent Public License
  131. LXer
  132. MIT License
  133. MozBin
  134. Mozdev.org
  135. Mozilla Add-ons
  136. Mozilla Foundation
  137. Mozilla Public License
  138. MozillaZine
  139. MyOSS
  140. NetHack General Public License
  141. Netscape Public License
  142. NewsForge
  143. New Zealand Open Source Society
  144. NonProfit Open Source Initiative
  145. Non-proprietary software
  146. Nupedia Open Content License
  147. ObjectWeb
  148. Ohio LinuxFest
  149. Ohloh
  150. O3 Magazine
  151. Open Audio License
  152. OpenCola
  153. Open content
  154. Open design
  155. OpenDocument Format Alliance
  156. OpenLP
  157. Open outsourcing
  158. Open Security Foundation
  159. Open Software License
  160. Open-source advocacy
  161. Open Source Applications Foundation
  162. Open-source culture
  163. Open Source Definition
  164. Open Source Developers' Conference
  165. Open-source evangelist
  166. Open source funding
  167. Open Source Geospatial Foundation
  168. Open Source Initiative
  169. Open source movement
  170. Open source movie
  171. Open-source software
  172. Open source software development
  173. Open source software development method
  174. Open Source Software Institute
  175. Open source teaching
  176. Open source vs. closed source
  177. Open-sourcing
  178. O'Reilly Open Source Convention
  179. Organisation for Free Software in Education and Teaching
  180. OSDL
  181. Ottawa Linux Symposium
  182. Patent Commons
  183. PHP License
  184. Pionia
  185. Pionia Organization
  186. Proprietary software
  187. Protecting the Virtual Commons
  188. Public Documentation License
  189. Public-domain equivalent license
  190. Python License
  191. Python Software Foundation License
  192. Q Public License
  193. RealNetworks Public Source License
  194. Reciprocal Public License
  195. Red Hat
  196. Revolution OS
  197. Richard Stallman
  198. RubyForge
  199. Sarovar
  200. Savane
  201. SIL Open Font License
  202. Simputer General Public License
  203. SIPfoundry
  204. Slashdot
  205. Sleepycat License
  206. Software Freedom Day
  207. Software Freedom Law Center
  208. Software in the Public Interest
  209. SourceForge
  210. Spread Firefox
  211. Sun Industry Standards Source License
  212. Sun Public License
  213. Sybase Open Watcom Public License
  214. Tanenbaum-Torvalds debate
  215. Tectonic Magazine
  216. The Cathedral and the Bazaar
  217. The Freedom Toaster
  218. The Free Software Definition
  219. The Perl Foundation
  220. The Right to Read
  221. The Summit Open Source Development Group
  222. Tigris.org
  223. Tivoization
  224. Tux
  225. Tux Magazine
  226. Ubuntu Foundation
  227. Use of Free and Open Source Software in the U.S. Department of Defense
  228. Vores Ol
  229. W3C Software Notice and License
  230. Webgpl
  231. What the Hack
  232. Wizards of OS
  233. WTFPL
  234. X.Org Foundation
  235. Xiph.Org Foundation
  236. Yet Another Perl Conference
  237. Yogurt

 

 
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FREE SOFTWARE CULTURE
This article is from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License 

Free software

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
This article is about "free software" as defined by the sociopolitical free software movement; for information on software distributed without charge, see freeware.
 
The logos of the GNU Project (the GNU head), the FreeBSD daemon, and the Linux kernel mascot Tux the Penguin
The logos of the GNU Project (the GNU head), the FreeBSD daemon, and the Linux kernel mascot Tux the Penguin

Free software, as defined by the Free Software Foundation, is software which can be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed with little or no restriction. Freedom from such restrictions is central to the concept, with the opposite of free software being proprietary software (a distinction unrelated to whether a fee is charged). The usual way for software to be distributed as free software is for the software to be licensed to the recipient with a free software license (or be in the public domain), and the source code of the software to be made available (for a compiled language).

By contrast, "Freeware" is software made available free of charge, but is generally proprietary, as users do not necessarily have the freedom to use, copy, study, modify or redistribute it. Source code for freeware may or may not be published, and permission to distribute modified versions may or may not be granted, so freeware is gratis, but not necessarily libre software. Free software is entirely compatible with commercial software: a prohibition on selling the software would be a restriction failing the free software definition.

History

As early as the 1950s and into the 1970s, software was seen as an add-on supplied by mainframe vendors to make computers useful. Thus, programmers and developers frequently shared their software freely. This was especially common in large users groups, such as SHARE and DECUS. DECUS was the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) Users Group and SHARE was a user group for the IBM 701.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, companies began routinely imposing restrictions on programmers with software license agreements. Sometimes this was because companies were now making money from proprietary software or they were trying to keep hardware characteristics secret by hiding the source code. Other times, the increasingly corporatised attitude in the growing and previously eclectic industry saw protecting source code and trade secrets as a norm, even if it didn't provide any benefit to business. Bill Gates signalled the change of the times when he wrote an open letter urging hackers to stop stealing by making unauthorized copies of software.

In 1983, Richard Stallman launched the GNU project after becoming frustrated with the effects of the change in culture of the computer industry and users. Stallman recalls one incident where a printer wouldn't work, but he couldn't hack the source code to fix the problem because it was withheld. Software development for the GNU operating system began in January 1984, and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) was founded in October 1985. He introduced a free software definition and "copyleft", designed to ensure software freedom for all. [1] Some reacted strongly against Stallman's position as idealistic nonsense and he was strongly mocked and criticised.[citation needed]

To help distinguish libre (freedom) software from gratis (zero price) software, Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement, developed the following explanation: "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'". More specifically, free software means that computer users have the freedom to cooperate with whom they choose, and to control the software they use. The GNU Manifesto contains language that gives evidence of Stallman's initial confusion with the usage.

The term "open source" is attached to a definition originally created in 1998 from Debian's free software guidelines. While most open source software is also free software and vice-versa, this is not always the case. Other alternative terms for free software include "Free and Open-source Software" (FOSS) and Free/Libre/Open-source Software (FLOSS).

The free BSD-based operating systems, such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD, use the same definition of free software, but they differ in interpretation about copyleft. Users of these systems often see copyleft as being over-restrictive to the point of being an encroachment on their freedom. The Kerberos, X.org and Apache software licenses are substantially similar in intent and implementation. All of these software packages originated in academic institutions interested in the widest possible technology transfer (University of California, MIT, and UIUC).

Present

Free software is a huge international effort, producing software used by individuals, large organisations, and even political administrations. Free software's current strength is in system software and basic user applications where there is little competitive choice in the market (such OS software, Internet browsing, and office productivity software). It is important to note, however, that the user base among individuals using prominent free software (such as the GNU/Linux operating system) is often only a fraction of the size of their proprietary competitors. Most free software is distributed online without charge, or off-line at the marginal cost of distribution, but this is not required, and people may sell copies for any price.

The economic advantages of the free software model are beginning to be recognised, even by some media sources [citation needed]. Also, some other industries — that is, non-software industries — are beginning to recognise the value of free software's message too: scientists, for example, are looking towards more open development processes, and hardware such as microchips are beginning to be developed under Copyleft licenses (see the OpenCores project, for instance). The Creative Commons and free culture movements have also been largely influenced by free software.


 

Free software licenses

Main article: free software licenses

According to Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation, software licenses must have the following four freedoms to qualify as being "Free":

  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study and modify the program.
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to copy the program so you can help your neighbor.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

Freedoms 1 and 3 require source code access, because studying and modifying software without its source code is extremely difficult, highly inefficient, and sometimes impossible in practice. Access to annotated source code relieves these problems.

Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative both publish lists of licenses that they find to comply with their definition of free software and open-source software respectively.[2] The lists are necessarily incomplete, because a license need not be known by either organization in order to provide these freedoms. 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 archives. However, it is rare that a license is announced as being in-compliance by FSF or OSI and not the other (the Netscape Public License used for early versions of Mozilla being an exception), so exact definitions of the terms have not become hot issues.

The terms Libre software, FLOSS, FOSS, and OSS/FS do not have formal meanings or de facto arbitrators.

Most free software uses a small set of licenses. The most popular of these are the GNU General Public License, the GNU Lesser General Public License, the BSD License, the Mozilla Public License, the MIT License, and the Apache License.

Software that is not free software is known as proprietary software. It may come with some or none of the above freedoms, and almost always comes with an EULA which purports to use contract law to restrict users' ability to run the software in certain ways.

The FSF and OSI definitions both disregard price. CDs containing free software such as GNU/Linux distributions are commonly for sale. If the CD buyer retains the free software freedoms the purchased software is still free software. Freeware that includes restrictions conflicting with the free software definition are considered proprietary, since source code may be unavailable, or redistributors may be prohibited from charging fees.

Some people use "libre" to avoid the ambiguity of the word "free". However, these terms are mostly used within the free software movement.

Variations on free software as defined by the FSF:

  • Copyleft licenses, the GNU General Public License being the most prominent. The author retains copyright and permits redistribution and modification under terms to ensure that all modified versions remain free for as long as the author wishes.
  • BSD-style licenses, so called because they are applied to much of the software distributed with the BSD operating systems. The author retains copyright protection solely to disclaim warranty and require proper attribution of modified works, but permits redistribution and modification in any work, even proprietary ones, again, for as long as the author wishes.
  • Public domain software - the author has abandoned the copyright. Since public-domain software lacks copyright protection, it may be freely incorporated into any work, whether proprietary or free. Importantly, software released thus goes completely out of control of the author, who, even if he subsequently so desires, cannot impose any restriction on its use, making the software truly free in every sense.

A copyright owner of copyleft-licensed software can produce and sell a version under any license, in addition to distributing the original version as free software. Many free software companies do this; this does not restrict any rights granted to the users of the copyleft version.

All free software licenses must grant people 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.

Examples of free software

Notable free software:

  • Operating systems: GNU/Linux, BSD, Darwin, and the Windows clone ReactOS.
  • GCC compilers, GDB debugger and C libraries.
  • Servers: BIND name server, Sendmail mail transport, Apache web server, and Samba file server.
  • Relational database systems: MySQL and PostgreSQL.
  • Programming languages: Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby and Tcl.
  • GUI related: X Window System, GNOME, KDE, and Xfce desktop environments.
  • OpenOffice.org office suite, Mozilla and Firefox web browsers and the GIMP graphics editor.
  • Typesetting and document preparation systems TeX and LaTeX.
  • See also: Category:Free software

The Free Software Directory is a free software project that maintains a large database of free software packages.

The most accessible and comprehensive collections of free software are currently distributed as LiveDistros, entire operating systems stored and made ready to boot on CDs, USB sticks, DVDs, and other bootable media. By inserting a LiveDistro into a CD drive and booting the computer arrives to a desktop with hundreds of free software packages ready to run and use.

Some free software like OpenOffice.org works on the non-free Microsoft Windows and non-free Unix platforms. Non-free software can work on free platforms, although purists prefer using platforms composed entirely of free software such as GNU/Linux.

For more details on this topic, see Portal:Free software/Categories.

Consequences

Free software is generally available at little to no cost and can result in permanently lower costs compared to proprietary software, evidence by free software becoming popular in third world countries. With free software, businesses have the freedom to fit the software to their specific needs by changing the software themselves or by hiring programmers to modify it for them. Under the free software business model, free software vendors may charge a fee for distrubtion and offer pay support and software customization services. Proprietary software uses a different business model, where a customer of the proprietary software pays a fee for a license to use the software. 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 (espically for enterprise applications) are usually available for an additional fee. Some proprietary software vendors will also customize software for a fee.

Free software gives users the ability to cooperate with each other 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 can increase commercial innovation amidst the void of patent cross licensing lawsuits. (See mpeg2 patent holders)

Free software played a part in the development of the Internet, the World Wide Web and the infrastructure (and subsequent debacle) of dot-com companies.

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 using relative counting of known unpatched security flaws. Generally, users of this method advise avoiding products which lack fixes for known security flaws, at least until a fix is available. Some claim that method counts more vulnerabilities for the free software, since their source code is accessible and their community is more forthcoming about what problems exist[3]. The ability to view and modify the software provides a practical defence against Spyware.[4]

Individual motivations

It is often wondered why individuals would make the effort to participate and contribute to free software, as such contributions can be very costly in terms of effort or time.

One of the reasons is that individuals can earn a living doing so. The Free Software Foundation maintains a service directory of people offering their free software services for hire. It shows free software developers offer their services ranging from $35/hour to $250/hour and some companies' rates for support for standard products start at $12,500. Some individuals perceive that they can start their own business at a fraction of the cost of proprietary software if they have the skills and knowledge required, for example many web hosting companies exclusively use free software.

However, direct economic benefit is hardly the main reason for the willingness of a wide community of individuals to contribute to Free Software. The main reason is simple: the contributor actually gets back much more than she gives away. Contributor A may be proficient in producing program A, and contributor B in producing program B. Conversely, contributor C may have experience in testing and debugging programs, but not in programming them from scratch. If they share their efforts freely, C might debug programs A and B, and thus the three contributors could have high quality programs A and B, whereas in a non-free scenario A and B would have a single buggy program each, and C would have nothing at all. A and B could try to sell their programs to each other, or to C. They could hire C to debug them. C could use his salary as debugger to buy programs A and/or B... However, although a non-free scenario could benefit highly A or B (whoever has the most direly needed program), the most positive outcome for the three of them at the same time would be without doubt obtained in the free scenario.

Individuals within a team typically have a wide variety of motivations. Often, there are stances on the relationship between free software and the existing business models that allow vendor lock in. They may also believe in inter-market competition, and that free software is a form of competition within capitalism. They may also perceive that copyright systems and other intellectual property regimes government-enforced monopolies - market restrictions. Other motivations may consist of gift economics, where status depends effectively on "gifts" from the contributor. Or more prosaically, a contributor may just want to altruistically do what he perceives as a good deed, in the spirit of volunteerism. Also, many companies use free software to their own advantage. Some companies contribute to the community substantially, while some of these companies use free software to cut costs, while only contributing when the expected cost/benefit of developing software under proprietary means would cost more than by doing it via a free software method. Many companies also use free software to cut costs of developing proprietary software that generates a profit for the company.

Free software controversies

Larry McVoy invited high-profile free software projects to use his proprietary program, BitKeeper, for gratis, in order to attract paying users. In 2002 a controversial decision was made to use BitKeeper, a proprietary software product, to develop the Linux kernel, a free software project. The following excerpt from a Newsforge editorial by Richard Stallman illustrates why this proved to be a major source of controversy.

"McVoy made the program available gratis to free software developers. This did not mean it was free software for them: they were privileged not to part with their money, but they still had to part with their freedom. They gave up the fundamental freedoms that define free software: freedom to run the program as you wish for any purpose, freedom to study and change the source code as you wish, freedom to make and redistribute copies, and freedom to publish modified versions.
The free software movement has said "Think of free speech, not free beer" for 15 years. McVoy said the opposite; he invited developers to focus on the lack of monetary price, instead of on freedom. A free software activist would dismiss this suggestion, but those in our community who value technical advantage above freedom and community were susceptible to it. ...
A free kernel, even a whole free operating system, is not sufficient to use your computer in freedom; we need free software for everything else, too. Free applications, free drivers, free BIOS: some of those projects face large obstacles -- the need to reverse engineer formats or protocols or pressure companies to document them, or to work around or face down patent threats, or to compete with a network effect. Success will require firmness and determination. A better kernel is desirable, to be sure, but not at the expense of weakening the impetus to liberate the rest of the software world." [5]

McVoy withdrew permission for gratis use by free software projects. Many in the free software movement see the whole affair as a vindication of Richard Stallman's principled position over the allegedly more utilitarian approach of Linus Torvalds.

See also

Wikinews
Wikinews has news related to:
FLOSS
 
  • Free software community
  • Free Software Magazine
  • Free audio software
  • Free file format
  • Free Software Foundation
  • Free software licenses
  • Glossary of legal terms in technology
  • GNU General Public License
  • GNU Project
  • List of free software packages
  • List of free software project directories
  • List of liberated software
  • Open content
  • Open hardware and Open machine
  • Open source
  • Open standard
  • Open format
  • Software Freedom Day
  • Collaborative software development model
  • Shared software

External links

  • The Free Software Definition
  • FSF's list of free software licenses, including clarifications on often confused non-free licenses
  • The GNU philosophy pages, including a comparison of "Open Source" and "Free Software"
  • Transcripts about Free Software by Ciaran O'Riordan
  • Free Software and Open Source Software List
  • Free Software Magazine, which bills itself as "a free magazine for the free software world".

Essays and articles

  • Free Software and Open Source software (Where to find) - from Wikisolutions
  • Why Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS)? Look at the Numbers!, analysis of the advantages of OSS/FS by David Wheeler.
  • Academic Research on FLOSS team dynamics By Syracuse University Researchers
  • Floss Weekly - Podcast hosted by Chris DiBona and Leo Laporte.
  • FLOSSWorld - Free/Libre/Open-Source Software: Worldwide impact study, to find out more about the recently announced European Union funded study.
  • Free/Libre and Open Source Software: Survey and Study FLOSS Workshop report, links to full study.
  • Free as in Education. Significance of the Free/Libre and Open Source Software for Developing Countries.
  • Information for development www.i4donline.net
  • FOSS primers at International Open Source Network (IOSN) by UNDP
  • FOSS examples and adoption in countries
  • Free Software / Open Source: Information Society Opportunities for Europe? (2000) -- Report includes section about possible economic models for Free/Libre and Open Source Software.
  • The Care and Feeding of FOSS, by Craig A. James

Free, online books

  • Open Source: The Unauthorized White Papers, by Donald K. Rosenberg

Wikibooks

  • FLOSS Concept Booklet
  • FOSS A General Introduction
  • List of free software books on Wikibooks


 

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software"