What is Free Software?
What is Free Software?
Free software is a type of software that prioritizes the freedom of its users in the world of computing. In general, it is a platform that allows users the ability to modify, reproduce, inspect, and develop software. The concept of “freedom” in free software represents the authority regarding the use of software, rather than its price. While most free software is offered for free today, there are also free software programs that have pricing policies.
The definition of “freedom” in free software has been established by an official organization called the Free Software Foundation (FSF). So, what are the freedoms offered by free software? This subject can be summarized under four main headings.
Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose without any restrictions.
Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works and modify it, which generally includes accessing the source code of the software.
Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies of the software and distribute copies of your modified versions.
Freedom 3: The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others, which is subject to the condition of accessing the source code.
In order for a software to be classified as free software, it must fulfill all of the above criteria. Software that fails to fulfill even one of these criteria cannot be considered free software. Furthermore, a program does not need to apply to any authority to label itself as “free software.” If it meets the above criteria, all software is, therefore, free software. Source
Today, the concept of free software is often confused with open-source software. This is partially true and partially a misconception. As is known, all software that holds the title of free software also has an open-source code structure. However, not all software with an open-source code structure can be defined as free software. Free software must necessarily be open-source because it allows users to easily access and manage the program.
Another important aspect related to free software is that, although they are platforms that should ideally be for the benefit of society, they can also have a commercial aspect if desired. This does not mean stepping out of the realm of free software.
It is also important to emphasize that free software is by no means pirate software. On the contrary, it is built on principles of security and transparency.