We have all heard of free software or open source (open source), and yet many people do not know the importance of understanding the difference between these terms. In non-computing environments, these concepts are not heard often but they are really present in their day to day because they affect the programs of any electronic device, such as a computer, tablet or Smartphone.
A proprietary software only defends the interests of the company that markets it and it cannot be modified by outsiders to satisfy particular needs. Instead, free or open software is accessible to everyone and can be modified to respond to the requirements of each individual.
A program can be considered free software when it respects the four essential freedoms:
- Freedom 0: allows you to run the program however you want.
- Freedom 1: you can study the source code of the program and you are free to change it, with the idea that it can do any necessary action.
- Freedom 2: allows you to make and distribute exact copies of the program whenever you want and thus help others.
- Freedom 3: you can contribute to the community, with the ease of making or distributing copies with your modified versions of the program.
According to Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Movement, comments that “These freedoms are of vital importance, not only for the good of the user but for the entire society, since they promote solidarity. Its relevance increases as our culture and daily activities become more and more linked to the digital world ”.
For schools, having free software is an insurmountable benefit because it allows them to save money by not having to pay permissions to use proprietary software. The convenience of being able to study the programs is vital for those who want to learn to program, since reading the code of others will serve as teaching or to solve problems.
Terminology open source (open source) was born to avoid a possible misunderstanding with the concept free software (free software). In English, this word is interpreted as free but in this case it really refers to the freedom of the program and not its price.
All free software is open source, but not every open source program is free software. The difference is in the licenses that can be used for the program: some are less permissive than others and little respect the aforementioned freedoms.