(in terms of software and technology)

Free Software, “free as in freedom, not free beer"

"You can charge whatever you want for free software. But what you can’t do is lock up the knowledge that makes it run. Others must be allowed to learn from and tinker with it. No one is permitted a monopoly on the teaching that stands behind it.” https://www.wired.com/2006/09/free-as-in-beer/, Lawrence Lessig

Free software” means software that respects users’ freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Thus, “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”. We sometimes call it “libre software,” borrowing the French or Spanish word for “free” as in freedom, to show we do not mean the software is gratis.” — The Free Software Foundation

Free as in freedom, not free beer.


Libre vs Open Source

the opposite of nonfree software which does not respect user’s rights

Nonfree Software

(Following is copied verbatim from “The advantages of free software by Richard Stallman”, https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/practical.html, accessed: 2024-06-01. CC BY ND 4)

Nonfree software is bad because it denies your freedom. Thus, asking about the practical advantages of free software is like asking about the practical advantages of not being handcuffed. Indeed, it has advantages:

  • You can wear an ordinary shirt.
  • You can get through metal detectors without triggering them.
  • You can keep a hand on the steering wheel while you shift gears.
  • You can pitch a baseball.
  • You can carry a backpack.

We could find more, but do you need these advantages to convince you to reject handcuffs? Probably not, because you understand that your freedom is what’s at stake.