Friday, November 6, 2009

Why Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software

When we call software “free,” we mean that it respects
the users' essential freedoms:
the freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute
copies with or without changes. This is a matter of freedom, not
price, so think of “free speech,” not “free

These freedoms are vitally important. They are essential, not just
for the individual users' sake, but for society as a whole because they promote social
solidarity—that is, sharing and cooperation. They become even
more important as our culture and life activities are increasingly digitized.
In a world of digital sounds, images, and words, free
software becomes increasingly essential for freedom in general.

A somewhat older article (2007) by Richard Stallman, but very relevant today. There is a big difference between open source and free software. Open source is a development methodology while free software is a social movement and "ethical imperative." I like that Stallman indicates that open source is a philosophy on "how to make software 'better' - in a practical sense only."

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