Many a time the issue of whether or not to buy a piece of software comes along. Lets look at what it means with Free and free software. Free software refers to software that gives users the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Specifically, it means that the software comes with four essential freedoms: the freedom to use the software for any purpose, the freedom to study how the software works and make changes to it, the freedom to redistribute copies of the software to others, and the freedom to distribute improved versions of the software to others.
These freedoms are important in ensuring that users have control over the software they use and that they can use, share, and modify it to suit their needs.
Free software is a matter of liberty, not just the absence of cost. Users are legally free to do what they want with their copies of free software, including profiting from them, regardless of how much is paid to obtain the program. Free software is different from freeware, which is a type of proprietary software that is released without charge to the public.
To be considered free software, a program must meet the four essential freedoms: the freedom to run the program as you wish, the freedom to study and change the program, the freedom to redistribute exact copies, and the freedom to distribute modified versions.
Free software is a political and ethical choice that asserts the right to learn and share knowledge with others. The free software movement was started in 1983 by computer scientist Richard M. Stallman, who launched a project called GNU to provide a replacement for the UNIX operating system that would respect the freedoms of those using it.
Today, free software is available for just about any task you can imagine, from complete operating systems like GNU to over 5,000 individual programs and tools listed in the FSF/UNESCO free software directory.
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