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The differences between Free Software, Open source solutions and Freeware

open source solutions freeware and free software

We have many terms refer to the software that does not charge you a fee for using. Those terms, with some people, sound almost the same but in fact, they are not. I think that open source solutions are quite straightforward enough but people still have some trouble when distinguishing between free software and freeware? So, in this article, I will give you the very detailed view about three of them.

Free Software

This term is not strange, it even has a long-year history. It was coined by Richard Stallman in the 1980s, that was the time he started the GNU Project (for creating a free operating system) and founded Free Software Foundation ( for advocating on behalf of free software). Free Software refers that users can safely run, adapt, and redistribute without legal restraint. Free Software brings users four essential freedom:

  • Freedom in running the program for any purpose
  • Freedom in studying the way programs work and changing easily as you want
  • Freedom in redistributing copies, which will really make sense if you want to help your neighbor
  • Freedom in distributing copies of your modified versions to others

The Free Software Foundation created GPL stands for General Public License. This license shows that developers can distribute their software under to qualify it as free and ensure that it stays that way.

Freeware

Unlike Free Software, Freeware does not emphasize or refer to any freedoms and it has no clear definition. In short, we can explain Freeware as software that is available at no cost. It is still generally closed source or proprietary, Adobe reader and Skype are the two most typical example. You might see the case when game developers re-release old games as freeware, the code is still kept under wraps but the game is free to play.

Open source solutions

This is the software with source code available under a license that gives users the right to study, change, and distribute the software as their demands. This term appeared in 1988 from when a group of individuals pushed for a title that was less ambiguous than free software. Open source solutions are the total of freedom to security, cost savings, transparency, and other pragmatic benefits. Like free software, open source solutions are distributed for free, but it does not mean that open source solutions have to be.

Whether open Source Solutions Is Free Software?

The answer is Yes and no. With software available under the GPL, it generally qualifies both as free software and open source solutions. If you use a Linux distribution, most of what you get through your package manager satisfies both sets of requirements.

However, if you are using Chrome OS, it is the same as Android, it is open source projects, but it cannot satisfy the four freedoms necessary to be considered free software. Android is now the most popular mobile operating system. No other operating system has been ported to more devices. Free and open source solutions seems to be the closest thing to a compromise between the two models. They charge users no fee but the situation remains a tad ambiguous.

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