Free software is a computer program distributed under certain terms which allow the user to use it and to modify, study, distribute and share it under any other terms as decided by the user. It also has the freedom to be modified but cannot be altered in such a way that it will conflict with the interests of any other party. The term free software can also be used to refer to any free or open-source software that is distributed for free. This article aims at describing what free software is.
What is Free Software? Free software can be free and open source code that can be modified and distributed without charging for it. This code can be combined and redistributed with other code under any license. In contrast with proprietary software, free software does not restrict users in any way.
Most free software licenses give the user the right to use, study, copy, modify and distribute the software under various conditions. Some of these conditions include: even if you just share the program with others; you must provide attribution to the original author and do no commercial use; you must include your copyright notice with every copy you distribute; you must have the option to opt out of any covered part if you want; and you must have the right to distribute any modified version of the program. More details can be found at the Free Software Definition website.
Who should use free software? For those who want to develop new programs but lack the necessary skills, free software makes it possible to learn more about programming while enjoying all the freedoms associated with it. With time, you may find yourself in need of another type of programming tool, but if you choose to stick with free software, you will be able to continue to develop for years to come.
What are the benefits of using free software? The greatest benefit of using free software is that it allows users the freedom and ability to redistribute their own programs without having to adhere to licensing terms. For example, in the case of proprietary languages like Java and C, licensed programs are not free software at all because the developer of that language owns the rights to the underlying software. By choosing a different license, you are able to compile your program without restrictions.
What are the disadvantages of using free software? One major disadvantage of proprietary software is that many companies that create them have little incentive to allow others to change the source code so that they may change or improve the program. Consequently, some of the more sophisticated programs have been developed by large corporations with extensive programming teams. Others have been designed by individuals with a great deal of experience in programming. Despite this, the bottom line is that proprietary programs often offer less functions or features than do those that are available through free software.
What are the advantages of free software? Among the greatest benefits of free software are its strengths and its limitations. For example, with open source software, you can freely modify the program’s source code, which gives you greater control over its functionality. This allows you to customize the program to meet your specific needs, which may include added functions that you don’t find in proprietary programs.
The advantages of free software far outweigh its drawbacks, making it an excellent choice for just about any computer user. If you have concerns about how nonfree software operates, you should investigate the potential downsides of programs that restrict your freedoms. By taking the time to research the issues, you will soon know whether free software is right for you.