Free software

official Logo of the Free software Foundation

free software is to be copied software, whose license permits it expressly to use it for each purpose it at will, studies, to change and further distribute. The source textis freely accessible, and must remain also freely accessible. Licenses, which do not grant these liberties, are unfreely called in response prop. guessing acre or.

The term „free “refers thereby not at the cost expense, but to the liberties mentioned, the usersand programmers at the software have. Smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Stallman, the founder of the free software movement, coined/shaped the utterance: “Free as in `freedom', emergency as into `free more beer'” („free as in ‚liberty `, not as in ‚free beer `“).If the buyer of a liable to pay the costs software thoserights mentioned, including copying as well as free or - requiring far distribution, to be granted, it concerns free software. Free software is not therefore clearly to differentiate of „the Freeware in such a way specified “, which is free, their source text however usuallyto be seen or changed may.

In the extended sense the term is referred also to file formats or minutes, which are publicly documented and freely usable.

Table of contents


developments in the apron

between 1960 and 1970 was established among other things onacademic US mechanisms (Stanford, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon and WITH) one „hackers - culture “, for which it was natural, their software enhancements with other programmers to divide. Programmers exchanged the software freely among themselves thereby and gave frequently the appropriateSource text further. In particular in large user groups like the DEK user Group (DECUS) was usual that. It was also usual practice to provide the source text of the software delivered with computer systems. Thus many suggestions for improvements and error corrections on the computer manufacturers returned.Software was seen as addition to computers, in order to make these usable.

To the late 1970er years began companies to introduce „software licences “which the use, which and the possibility of the change of the programs limited passing on. In addition many programs did not become any moresupplied in the source text, but only in machine-readable form, which made a change almost impossible. Additionally it with the arising of microcomputers eligible for financing of IBM, Apple, Atari or Commodore usually to sell software separately from computer hardwareand the source text from the competition to hide, the software thus prop. guessing acre became. Ever more hacker by the software companies were employed, and the liberties noticed so far were limited strongly, software became an artificially verknappten property.

Into this time fellthe work of smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Stallman on „the AI lab “ (department for artificial intelligence) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When prop. guessing acres software was likewise inserted there in the laboratories, Stallman for it, by programming alternative software a monopolistic position stroveto prevent proprietärer offerer. It followed thereby its principles of a scientific co-operation, which planned a free and unhindered exchange of software.

“With my community gone, tons of continue as before which impossible. Instead, I faced A strongly moral choice.
The easychoice which tons join the proprietary software world, signing nondisclosure agreements and promising emergency ton help my fellow hackers. Most likely I would thus developing software that which released more under nondisclosure agreements, thus adding ton the pressure on OTHERpeople tons betray their fellows too.
I could have larva money this way, and perhaps amused myself writing code. But I knew that RK the end to OF my more career, I would look bake on years OF building barrier ton dividepeople, and feel I had spent my would run making the world A worse place. [...]
Another choice, straightforward but unpleasant, which ton leave the computers field. That way my skills would emergency misused, but they would quietly wasted.I would emergency culpable for dividing and restricting computer users, but it would happen nonetheless.
Thus I looked for A way that A more programmer could DO something for the good. I asked myself, which there A program or programsdoes I that could write, thus as ton make A community possible once again? “ [1]

the birth suitor software

in the year 1983 decided then the company AT&T to bring prop. guessing acres a version of their Unix on the market,UNIX system V. Since now a freely available version of Unix was missing, Stallman to provide a free Unix clone and announced in September 1983 the GNU decided - project, which had the creation of the clone as a goal [2]. OverLicenses for the software to provide to be able, which would bring along the idea of the liberty, it sketched the Copyleft - to principle, and applied to it developing licenses on the written GNU software. 1985 followed the establishment of the non-profit donation Free software Foundation (FSF),those the promotion and development of GNU and suitor software to serve should. There however existed for different software projects, Stallman 1989 the individual licenses with the help of the right professor evenly Moglen combined different licenses into only one license, the GNU generalPublicly License (GPL). The GPL is the today usually spread license for free software.

The free software experienced a new upswing, when Linus Torvalds 1993 placed the Linux Kernel written of it under the GPL. With then instead of finding rapidDevelopment of Linux and its spreading was used free software from ever more humans.

1997 published Eric S. Raymond the essay „The Cathedral and the Bazaar “. The publication caused the company Netscape to release the source text of the Netscape of navigator outthe Webbrowser Mozilla Firefox became then later. After the publication Raymond, Bruce Perens and Tim O' Reilly created the open SOURCE initiative with the goal of replacing the term „of the free software “by the term „open SOURCE “there this less ideologicallyis loaded. This led to one union-sneezes with smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Stallman, who rejected the term „open SOURCE “. Until today the two designations provide again and again for confusion and discrepancies between the respective supporters.


smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Stallman and thoseFree software Foundation (FSF) define software as free, if their license grants the following liberties:

  • Liberty 0: To implement the program for each purpose.
  • Liberty 1: To study and change the program.
  • Liberty 2: To copy the program.
  • Liberty 3: ThatTo improve and spread program, in order to produce thereby a use for the community.

For the liberties one and three is the entrance to the source code a condition, otherwise changing of a program becomes difficult to impossible. Are not these conditionsfulfilled, the software is unfreely called prop. guessing acre or.

There are different types of licenses, which fulfill the criteria suitor software:

  • Copyleft licenses, which are public GNU general License (GPL) the most frequently used. The author keeps the copyright, andclauses are contained that changed and passed on software remains free. Also the source code must be made available.
  • Public Domain - licenses. The author does without the copyright. Thus each all can make it with the software, approximately into own programsinsert or sell.
  • With BSD well-behaved licenses the author keeps the copyright. This the principle „honour, whom honour contains been entitled the “following license the names author and often also a non-liability. Change and passing on in each form are permitted, D.h. it may be built also into prop. guessing acres software. Into this class the Apache license and the With license fall.

free software movement and open SOURCE

the expression „free software “are generally used as synonym foropen SOURCE software “(OSS),even if the advocates of the respective terms different emphasis set. Although large agreement exists, the Free criticizes software Foundation at the recent open SOURCE movement among other things that the term creates „open SOURCE “ambiguity and itself only at technical, not however onsocialethical questions orient.

acquaintance personalities

work on []

Examples suitor software

(January 2006) are registered at present scarcely 4,500 GNU packages in „the Free software directory[3], which 1999 likewise started as a project of the FSF. Some the most important projects are:


economical aspect

free software can, in accordance with which four liberties, are almost at will copied and passed on. A restriction of free copyingand the free passing on is not compatible with the term of the free software. Free software must thereby be however not compellingly free, but can be also sold. The source text must be however always made available freely. Here standsthus no more the final product on the data medium in the foreground, but first of all the aspect of service of the software development. Maintenance and adjustment of the software as well as training and technical support are for the customers of importance. Companies, this business strategy toSoftware selling, are for example talk have and Trolltech selected.

economical aspect

usually innovations do not become by high margins, but by a broad paragraph brought into traffic. Free software becomes therefore of some economists asgood possibility seen of receiving qualitatively high-quality software without license costs and of keeping or of lowering the generally high service costs constant.

Free software is subject to no rivalry and also not the exclusion principle, is thus a specifically public property and can by definition are not subject to a usual market happening. The publishers of proprietärer software nevertheless regard it as a serious threat for its business and try therefore to hold potenzielle customers from the use suitor software. When arguments lead it among other things guaranteed, improvesQuality of proprietärer software, particularly regarding user friendliness, as well as improves services on. In some cases developers of proprietärer software developers of suitor tried to accuse software patent and copyright infringements, around them from the market to urge.

political aspect

many politiciansin Germany (to a large extent) the free GNU/Linux sees prevailing prop. guessing acres as future replacement for the operating system Windows. Frequently an agreement is manufactured by transparency in a democracy and the transparency of the free software.

Some humans see in the free software movement evenBeginnings, which show possibilities for the overcoming of capitalism. In Germany among other things the project Oekonux concerns itself with this topic. Others see in suitor software only a further competitor within the free market order.

The liberty, the software into other languagesto translate, particularly benefits those language's groups , for which a translation is not commercially interesting.

Besides suitor software money does not flow off in stranger of countries with use, where the offerers of proprietärer software have its firm head office. All means, those locallyfor IT are available, can flow therefore directly into the IT-economy locally.

world-political aspect

the liberty of the software becomes from the 3. UN world summit recognized to the information society (WSIS) as protect worth. It belongs to that to the elementary demandsCivil company, with which „digital splitting is to be overcome “. Under „digital splitting “splitting into countries and/or regions of the earth is designated, which can afford the procurement of software, and such, which cannot do this. It partly gives alsodue to the economic Unattraktivität in their cases no adapted prop. guessing acres software.

„By free software developers in other culture areas have the liberty to adapt programs to its language and conditions in order to then pass it on commercially or not-commercially. At proprietärer software is this generally forbade and on the grace of the manufacturer dependent “(George Greve, president of the Free software Foundation Europe and representatives of the civilian-social WSIS of coordination circle in the German government delegation, 2003) [4]

pro and cons suitor software

An advantage suitor software is in the possibility of changing and of distributing the software unhindered. Free software can to own needs be adapted for an unlimited period and a product resulting from it as free software be further-distributed. Thereby the user reaches independenceof individual projects and manufacturers. Likewise it is possible to use free software commercially.

A disadvantage suitor software is the loss of control of a work. With the publication of a work access to this exists for everyone, and it can for each purpose to be changed and used, without the author must be informed about it. The moreover one the possibility exists that changes are not revealed, although it requires the license. In such cases the proof of the license injury is often difficultand connected with high expenditure.

It must be noted that some pro and cons depend on the respective licenses. Thus about some licenses permit to changes, if these changes are made publicly accessible again, during some licenses it only also permit,to keep closed the changes.

security suitor software

the security of free software is disputed. Critics often argue that free software represents a safety risk, since the availability of the source code makes it simpler for an aggressor, to use points of break-down. Proponent more freelySoftware see this openness as advantage since so the source code can be examined by more and also among themselves independent humans and corrected if necessary.

In the course of the time by different sides a set of statistics, the too different were publishedResults came. A general judgement can hardly be fallen, since among other things also handling and the publication of program errors and safety gaps in both fields are differently acted.

obstacles and threats for free software

the advantages thatthe publisher on the further circulation of its software no more influence has and the function mode openly lies, raises a set from conflicts to the usual business practices in handling software.

prop. guessing acres interfaces

hardware manufacturers go ever moreto over keeping the interface specifications secret in order to refuse to the competition a copying from technical solution methods to. The reason lies in the increasing competition pressure and in the simplicity of the protection in relation to patenting. If not publicly documented, like the devicesto head for are, suffers the hardware support of free operating systems by means of free drivers a heavy setback.

On the other hand the manufacturers recognized the users of larger free platforms (GNU project, Linux , X) than customer group. Many of them make prop. guessing acres available drivers. These drivers pushunder the trailers suitor software on most divided opinions: Some are lucky over it that they achieved the support of the hardware manufacturers and their hardware is fully supported by their preferential operating system now, others to have doubts that one due to the prop. guessing erasDriver no more of a free operating system to speak cannot.

If the manufacturer should not have made an appropriate driver available, there is still the possibility of using the driver for another platform and over the interfaces of the goal platform on itto access. This turned out however as an in practice second-class solution, in particular if hardware drivers can run in a highly privileged level in the system and cause thus in the case of the smallest error complete of crashes.

A general interface release became the users more freelySoftware platforms surely relieve. Apart from the philosophical aspect it is a question of the dependability, because should for example a proprietärer Linux Netzwerkkartentreiber regularly to crashes of the system lead, would be powerless the Linux developers against it and it on the grace of the manufacturer would depend whetherthe error was repaired.

software patents

the software patents regularly emerging in the headlines have a particularly serious influence on free software, because it is partially legally not even possible to fulfill with suitor software the patent editions.These insist in some cases on a fee per copy in circulation brought, but free software requires straight that the publisher may have on it no influence. Even if it would pay the royalties for example by donations, it would haveto submit it knows an exact number of the copies, which are in the circulation, with which it would be no more free software.

TCG, DRM, copy protection, etc.

Trusted Computing and DRM have the goal, the activities on the own systemto control by foreigner from the distance. This is with suitor software only with the help of with difficulty cracking, durable, sourceopen Kryptografie possible and not by simple hiding (see also: Kerckhoffs principle).

  • Politically seen free software must always of the user replacingand changeable its. Software, which must be certified in binary form, is not this.
  • Technically seen software before the user anything cannot be concealed in the binary code in suitors, because the source code for everyone must be accessible. Thus the coding can,with that the data protected the user „“, will more simply rear-be issued.

A further exemplary incompatibility opens itself with the copy protection of DVDs: The copy protection is effectively hardly effectively and easy to deceive, however it prevents normal playing.It is now maintained, programs, which solve the copy protection, would have to be licensed, otherwise already pure playing would be in Germany illegal, because a copy protection under no circumstances could be gone around. This statement could be regarded however as FUD, there thatShop into the main memory after the iurisdiction no copying process represents.

If hardware manufacturer chip-corrodes such as Intel or AMD function-restrictive procedures in or should implement processors, free software could unfold the full function range possibly only on free hardware.

See also

to literature

see also: Literature over free ones and open SOURCE software


  1. smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Stallman: The GNU Project on, 18.06.2005
  2. smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Stallman: Initially Announcement on net.unix wizards, net.usoft, 27.09.1983
  3. FSF/UNESCO Free software directory on the web page of the FSF, 2004
  4. liberty of the software is finally recognized of the UN as protect worth, articles of the network new media, 26.09.2003

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