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Difference between Free Software and Open Source Software

  • Last Updated : 02 Mar, 2020
Geek Week

Free Software:
“Free software” means software that respects users’ freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.

The term “free software” is sometimes misunderstood—it has nothing to do with price. It is about freedom.

Open Source Software :
Open Source Software is something which you can modify as per your needs, share with others without any licensing violation burden. When we say Open Source, source code of software is available publicly with Open Source licenses like GNU (GPL) which allows you to edit source code and distribute it. Read these licenses and you will realize that these licenses are created to help us.

  1. Coined by the development environments around software produced by open collaboration of software developers on the internet.
  2. Later specified by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).
  3. It does not explicitly state ethical values, besides those directly associated to software development.

Difference between Free Software and Open Source Software:

S.No.FS PhilosophyOSS Philosophy
1.Software is an important part of people’s lives.Software is just software. There are no ethics associated directly to it.
2.Software freedom translates to social freedom.Ethics are to be associated to the people not to the software.
3.Freedom is a value that is more important than any economical advantage.Freedom is not an absolute concept. Freedom should be allowed, not imposed.
4.Examples: The Free Software Directory maintains a large database of free-software packages. Some of the best-known examples include the Linux kernel, the BSD and Linux operating systems, the GNU Compiler Collection and C library; the MySQL relational database; the Apache web server; and the Sendmail mail transport agent.Examples: Prime examples of open-source products are the Apache HTTP Server, the e-commerce platform osCommerce, internet browsers Mozilla Firefox and Chromium (the project where the vast majority of development of the freeware Google Chrome is done) and the full office suite LibreOffice.

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