"As our society grows more dependent on computers, the software we run is of critical importance to securing the future of a free society. Free software is about having control over the technology we use in our homes, schools and businesses, where computers work for our individual and communal benefit" Free Software Foundation
Free software is software that grants everyone permission to use, study, copy, modify and/or distribute the software.
Free and open source software are provided at zero cost but the word "free" does not refer to the cost of the software. "Free" refers to the fact that everyone has freedom to use the software for their benefit. These freedoms (use, study, copy, modify, distribute) are granted to everyone and are protected through an enforceable legal license.
A Free Software license ensures that the public has commercial and creative rights to that software. The commercial and creative rights include the rights to reproduce, modify and sell the software. Typically, the only restrictions for free software licenses have the goal of ensuring that neither the software nor its derivatives become non-free. This means that non-free software cannot include free software and that no one has the right to restrict the freedoms granted by the free software licenses. There are many different free software licenses but all "free software licenses" provide and protect the same rights.
The Free Software Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes the development of free software and documentation. Their mission is to defend the rights of all free software users. Their view is that software must be free to ensure society does not lose control over its computing.
The 4 basic freedoms are defined as follows:
The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0) .
The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
The term open source came into use in the late 90s as a re-branding of the free software movement. Some members of the free software movement wanted to refocus the dialogue on free software toward its commercial value. They prioritized the technical and economic benefits of open source code and open development, and avoided the political and moral issues that had been a focus of the "Free Software" movement. The goal was to increase participation from the commercial software industry.
The term FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) is often used to acknowledge both movements and perspectives. The primary differences between the free software and open source licenses are the values upon which the licenses are based. Despite the differences in priority and/or focus all "Free Software" is open source and almost all software that is acknowledged by the Open Source Initiative is also Free Software.
One of the goals of free and open source software is to improve the quality of software. When software is proprietary only the vendor with access to that software has the capabilities to repair and/or enhance it. Changes to the software are dependent upon the skills and/or desires of the vendor.
With open source there is a community that is able to fix and improve the software. This increases the potential for fixes and enhancements and ensures that profit is not the only motive behind modifications. Software is enhanced or modified based on the needs and skills of the community. The priority for the development of the software becomes what is needed and not what is profitable.
A primary motivation for open source is to ensure that personal liberty is maintained. Visibility into what software does and how it works is necessary to ensure that software is performing as it should and has no unwanted functionality. With free software the access to source code provides the opportunity to validate the functionality and change it if needed.
Many believe that the best path to developing computing technology is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access and contribute to it. By making source code visible it is possible for developers to learn from each other and to leverage the work of others to develop or improve products.
There is little doubt that having access to the source code for all Linux applications can be of great value to developers writing new applications or services. There is the potential to save countless hours writing code by using and/or modifying code that was written for other purposes.
The cooperative model where people share and work together on projects is more effective than the closed proprietary model. At a minimum the cooperative model should improve efficiency by reducing duplication of effort, at best working as a team will improve everyone's performance.
Technology and non-technology companies have embraced open source and accepted it as a way companies can share development costs. Technology companies such as Novell, Red Hat, IBM and HP use, develop and contribute to open source software. This decreases their costs for those common components that they all share and use. It also allows them to use some capabilities without any development or software costs.
Many large and successful companies such as web hosting and online service companies utilize open source almost exclusively to deliver their services. They utilize Linux servers, Apache, Wordpress and countless other open source tools as components of their core services.
These companies and the clients they service generate jobs and revenues in the billions. With more than 50% of all websites hosted on Linux the economic impact of open source on the internet alone is significant. However, the utilization extends beyond the internet and includes government, science, education, business and home use.
Open source makes it possible for everyone to have access to advanced computing technology at a low cost. It protects our freedom by allowing us to control the software that we use. It also provides the opportunity to learn and provides a frame work to execute and develop applications and services.
Personal Opportunity - Free software gives you access to billions of dollars of software at no cost. Use this software for your business, personal use or to develop a profitable skill. Access to source code provides access to a level of capabilities/information that companies protect though copyrights. Open source is a core component of the Internet and it is available to you. Leverage the billions of dollars in resources and capabilities to build a career, establish a business or change the world. The potential is endless for those who understand the opportunity.
Business Opportunity - Goldman Sachs, IBM and countless large corporations are leveraging open source to reduce costs, develop products and increase their bottom lines. Learn what these companies know about open source and how open source can give you the advantage.
U.S. Government - On January 20 2009, President Obama's first day in office, the Open Government initiative was issued to provide transparency and access to Government data. Learn how our Government is using open source and the opportunities this provides for you. Leverage Use open Government data or
The Free Books Library is a collection of thousands of the most popular public domain books in an online readable format. The collection includes great classical literature and more recent works where the U.S. copyright has expired. These books are yours to read and use without restrictions.
The Library of History by Diodorus the Sicilian is one of the most highly regarded universal histories in antiquities. His work includes the history of Egypt, Asia, Africa, Greece and Europe. His book is a must read for research of ancient history.
The Histories of Herodotus written in 440 BC is considered to be the founding work of history in Western literature. His history included stories and fables but he claimed to have traveled extensively and learned about many countries through direct observation.
The thesis of Stolen Legacy is that the Egyptians created what is wrongly called Greek philosophy. Dr. James argues that the African origin of Greek Philosophy is well known but rarely discussed. Ancient Greek historians such as Herodotus and Diodorus the Sicilian wrote in significant detail about the contributions of Egypt. Egyptian technology and libraries were unmatched and Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras and Plato studied there. The contribution of Africa to the intellectual foundation of modern knowledge is tremendous but unacknowledged.
Bible Study The King James Bible (kjv), World English Bible (web) and Bible in Basic English (bbe) are all examples of public domain books. The King James Bible (kjv) online uses the content from these books and open source software to enhance Bible study capabilities. The site includes the verse of the day, search tools, christian literature and links to related content. It demonstrates the use of open source to create a valuable service.
Free Software provides computer programs and capabilities at no cost but more importantly, it provides the freedom to run, edit, contribute to, and share the software. The importance of free software is a matter of access, not price. Software at no cost is a benefit but ownership rights to the software and source code is far more significant.
Free Office Software - The Libre Office suite provides top desktop productivity tools for free. This includes, a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation engine, drawing and flowcharting, database and math applications. Libre Office is available for Linux or Windows.
Linux is an open source computer operating system (OS) used on laptops, games, watches and super computers. The software and the source code used for Linux are both available to you at no cost. Use this powerful resource to your advantage.
Source Code - Want to change a program or know how it works? Open Source provides the source code for its programs so that anyone can use, modify or learn how to write those programs themselves. Visit the GNU source code repositories to download the source.
Study at Harvard, Stanford or MIT - Open edX provides free online courses from Harvard, MIT, Columbia, UC Berkeley and other top Universities. Hundreds of courses for almost all major subjects and course levels. Open edx also offers some paid courses and selected certifications.
Linux Manual Pages - A man or manual page is a form of software documentation found on Linux/Unix operating systems. Topics covered include computer programs (including library and system calls), formal standards and conventions, and even abstract concepts.