Free Software Principles

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Principles of the free software movement, described at

`Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ``free as in ``free speech, not as in ``free beer.

Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the users of the software:

- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).

- The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour (freedom 2).

- The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.�? (Stallman website)

See also the GNU Manifesto at .


Richard Stallman on the free software principles

"My work on free software is motivated by an idealistic goal: spreading freedom and cooperation. I want to encourage free software to spread, replacing proprietary software that forbids cooperation, and thus make our society better. That's the basic reason why the GNU General Public License is written the way it is--as a copyleft. All code added to a GPL-covered program must be free software, even if it is put in a separate file. I make my code available for use in free software, and not for use in proprietary software, in order to encourage other people who write software to make it free as well. I figure that since proprietary software developers use copyright to stop us from sharing, we cooperators can use copyright to give other cooperators an advantage of their own: they can use our code.:" ( )

French-language interview with Stallman:

Differences between Free Software and Open Source

Stephan Merten of Oekonux

"Free Software and Open Source Software are not two movements, but a single movement with two factions, and as far as I can see the distinction plays a major role mostly in the more ideological discussions between members of the two factions. They are collaborating on projects, and sometimes unite, for instance, when it is a question of defending against the attacks of Micro$oft. And, no, "Open Source" is not an accurate characterization of this faction, since their focus has been making Free Software compatible with business people's thinking. A more correct name would have been "Free Software for Business" - or something like that. … Today the widespread inflation of the term "Open Source" has a deep negative impact. Often the core idea behind Free Software - establishing the freedom of the user - is not known to people who are only talking of Open Source - be it leftist intelligentsia or other people. I think this is a pity and would recommend using only the term Free Software because this is the correct term for the phenomenon." (

The FSF on why Free Software is better than Open Source

Read this essay at the FSF: