Free software – why it is better

First of all, I will define what I mean with free software, before I start to say why free software is better. By free software, I mean software that is “free as in freedom of speach, not as in free beer”. There is four essential freedoms (as published from FSF):

  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

I think that software that respects the users freedoms is better than software that only is gratis. Of course you can get many programs, that is free in the matter of liberty for free and in the matter of price. I am assuming that you have a computer with internet access, so that this could be gratis; some examples would be Trisquel, a GNU/Linux operating system, LibreOffice, an office suite and Bash, a command-line shell, to name a few.

I have been mailing with a friend quite much lately about this issue. We have had quite much discussions about what is of the most weight; if it would be the price (gratis software) or if it would be the freedom. Free software, as I define it, would always guarantee that you can help your neighbors, and probably their granny. But this you cannot do with a program that is gratis; you must have the permission from the copyright holder(s) to give a copy to your neighbor and their granny.

Of course, there are people who would think that gratis is good, because no one would be left outside without the programme. But the real problem would be the permission from the copyright holder(s). You must hold a permission from them to use the program. This is granted and guaranteed by a free license, such as GPL (for an example).

And I think that programmers would be thankful if you gave them some money for the time that they have spent making the program. I know that I would, and by GPL amongs other licenses that is approved free software licenses this would be ok. It would also be ok for you to make a copy to all of your computers and your friends if you would have bought the license to use the programme.

Please, feel free to comment about this!


3 thoughts on “Free software – why it is better

  1. Zevoryx

    I must confess that I change my mind on this subject quite often. It is because it is a difficult topic and a easy conclusion is not possible, not in my chase anyway. I equal gratis as much as freedom. But I think a program has to be gratis to enable total freedom to a citizen. They go hand in hand in my world. If you can not afford to buy your desired software, how much use is the code then? This is not a argument against libre software, but a simple thought experiment. Then there is another issue. And that is that I am for strong copyright laws, which is sometimes incompatible with libre software. So, mildy speaking, I have little problem deciding where I stand in this issue.

    1. musicxs Post author

      My standpoint is, that free software (as I mentioned in this post) always guarantees that you can do whatever you want with the software. Sometimes it happens that free software costs a bit, but on the contrary you can share the software with a friend without charging him or her the fee you did pay. This can not be done with proprietary software, because you would need the permission from the copyright holder(s).

      I would rather see a world that is filled with free software rather than proprietary, because free software gives you as the user control over what you can do with your software rather than being a helpless computer user using proprietary software.

      Of course, it would be easier if you are some kind of software developer since source code needs a bit of thinking. But free software still enables you as the user hiring a programmer to do your job if you can not write code.

      But everyone is entitled to their opinion about this, and my is that it is better to have one huge collaborating group of people rather than a large group being dependent on one small group (e.g. computer users using Windows or Mac, since they need support from the companies to fix bugs and stuff like that).

  2. Pingback: Mims Weekly #1 « A blog about (almost) everything

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