Monday, 14 September 2009

Free Software

Free software, software libre or libre sofware is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with minimal restrictions only to ensure that further recipients can also do these things and that manufacturers of consumer-facing hardware allow user modifications to their hardware. Free software is available gratis (free of charge) in most cases.

In practice, for software to be distributed as free software, the human-readable form of the program (the source code) must be made available to the recipient along with a notice granting the above permissions. Such a notice either is a "free software license", or a notice that the source code is released into the public domain.

The free software movement was conceived in 1983 by Richard Stallman to satisfy the need for and to give the benefit of "software freedom" to computer users. The Free Software Foundation was founded in 1985 to provide the organizational structure which Stallman correctly foresaw would be necessary to advance his Free Software ideas.

Free software, which may or may not be distributed free of charge, is distinct from "freeware" which, by definition, does not require payment for use. The authors or copyright holders of freeware may retain all rights to the software; it is not necessarily permissible to reverse engineer, modify, or redistribute freeware.

Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Movement.

Since free software may be freely redistributed it is generally available at little or no cost. Free software business models are usually based on adding value such as applications, support, training, customization, integration, or certification. At the same time, some business models which work with proprietary software are not compatible with free software, such as those that depend on a user paying for a license in order to lawfully use a software product.

Examples of free software

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 GNU/Linux operating systems, the GNU Compiler Collection and C library; the MySQL relational database; the Apache web server; and the Sendmail mail transport agent. Other influential examples include the emacs text editor; the GIMP raster drawing and image editor; the X Window System graphical-display system; the office suite; and the TeX and LaTeX typesetting systems.

The Free Software Directory is a project of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and UNESCO. It catalogs useful free software that runs under free operating systems - particularly GNU and Linux.

Unlike some other directories that focus on free software, Free Software Directory staff verify the licenses of software listed in the directory. As of September 1, 2009, the Directory lists 6,000 packages.

To view the Free Software Directory Click Here