Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software

Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software

from: http://www.gnu.org/

When we call software "free," we mean that it respects the users' essential freedoms: the freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute copies with or without changes. This is a matter of freedom, not price, so think of "free speech," not "free beer."

These freedoms are vitally important. They are essential, not just for the individual users' sake, but for society as a whole because they promote social solidarity—that is, sharing and cooperation. They become even more important as our culture and life activities are increasingly digitized. In a world of digital sounds, images, and words, free software becomes increasingly essential for freedom in general.

Tens of millions of people around the world now use free software; the public schools of some regions of India and Spain now teach all students to use the free GNU/Linux operating system. Most of these users, however, have never heard of the ethical reasons for which we developed this system and built the free software community, because nowadays this system and community are more often spoken of as "open source", attributing them to a different philosophy in which these freedoms are hardly mentioned.

The free software movement has campaigned for computer users' freedom since 1983. In 1984 we launched the development of the free operating system GNU, so that we could avoid the nonfree operating systems that deny freedom to their users. During the 1980s, we developed most of the essential components of the system and designed the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) to release them under—a license designed specifically to protect freedom for all users of a program.

Not all of the users and developers of free software agreed with the goals of the free software movement. In 1998, a part of the free software community splintered off and began campaigning in the name of "open source." The term was originally proposed to avoid a possible misunderstanding of the term "free software," but it soon became associated with philosophical views quite different from those of the free software movement.

Some of the supporters of open source considered the term a "marketing campaign for free software," which would appeal to business executives by highlighting the software's practical benefits, while not raising issues of right and wrong that they might not like to hear. Other supporters flatly rejected the free software movement's ethical and social values. Whichever their views, when campaigning for open source, they neither cited nor advocated those values. The term "open source" quickly became associated with ideas and arguments based only on practical values, such as making or having powerful, reliable software. Most of the supporters of open source have come to it since then, and they make the same association.

Nearly all open source software is free software. The two terms describe almost the same category of software, but they stand for views based on fundamentally different values. Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement. For the free software movement, free software is an ethical imperative, because only free software respects the users' freedom. By contrast, the philosophy of open source considers issues in terms of how to make software "better"—in a practical sense only. It says that nonfree software is an inferior solution to the practical problem at hand. For the free software movement, however, nonfree software is a social problem, and the solution is to stop using it and move to free software.

"Free software." "Open source." If it's the same software, does it matter which name you use? Yes, because different words convey different ideas. While a free program by any other name would give you the same freedom today, establishing freedom in a lasting way depends above all on teaching people to value freedom. If you want to help do this, it is essential to speak of "free software."

We in the free software movement don't think of the open source camp as an enemy; the enemy is proprietary (nonfree) software. But we want people to know we stand for freedom, so we do not accept being mislabeled as open source supporters.

Common Misunderstandings of "Free Software" and "Open Source"

The term "free software" is prone to misinterpretation: an unintended meaning, "software you can get for zero price," fits the term just as well as the intended meaning, "software which gives the user certain freedoms." We address this problem by publishing the definition of free software, and by saying "Think of 'free speech,' not 'free beer.'" This is not a perfect solution; it cannot completely eliminate the problem. An unambiguous and correct term would be better, if it didn't present other problems.

Unfortunately, all the alternatives in English have problems of their own. We've looked at many that people have suggested, but none is so clearly "right" that switching to it would be a good idea. (For instance, in some contexts the French and Spanish word "libre" works well, but people in India do not recognize it at all.) Every proposed replacement for "free software" has some kind of semantic problem—and this includes "open source software."

The official definition of "open source software" (which is published by the Open Source Initiative and is too long to include here) was derived indirectly from our criteria for free software. It is not the same; it is a little looser in some respects, so the open source people have accepted a few licenses that we consider unacceptably restrictive. Also, they judge solely by the license of the source code, whereas our criterion also considers whether a device will let you run your modified version of the program. Nonetheless, their definition agrees with our definition in most cases.

However, the obvious meaning for the expression "open source software"—and the one most people seem to think it means—is "You can look at the source code." That criterion is much weaker than the free software definition, much weaker also than the official definition of open source. It includes many programs that are neither free nor open source.

Since that obvious meaning for "open source" is not the meaning that its advocates intend, the result is that most people misunderstand the term. According to writer Neal Stephenson, "Linux is 'open source' software meaning, simply, that anyone can get copies of its source code files." I don't think he deliberately sought to reject or dispute the "official" definition. I think he simply applied the conventions of the English language to come up with a meaning for the term. The state of Kansas published a similar definition: "Make use of open-source software (OSS). OSS is software for which the source code is freely and publicly available, though the specific licensing agreements vary as to what one is allowed to do with that code."

The New York Times has run an article that stretches the meaning of the term to refer to user beta testing—letting a few users try an early version and give confidential feedback—which proprietary software developers have practiced for decades.

Open source supporters try to deal with this by pointing to their official definition, but that corrective approach is less effective for them than it is for us. The term "free software" has two natural meanings, one of which is the intended meaning, so a person who has grasped the idea of "free speech, not free beer" will not get it wrong again. But the term "open source" has only one natural meaning, which is different from the meaning its supporters intend. So there is no succinct way to explain and justify its official definition. That makes for worse confusion.

Another misunderstanding of "open source" is the idea that it means "not using the GNU GPL." This tends to accompany another misunderstanding that "free software" means "GPL-covered software." These are both mistaken, since the GNU GPL qualifies as an open source license and most of the open source licenses qualify as free software licenses.

The term "open source" has been further stretched by its application to other activities, such as government, education, and science, where there is no such thing as source code, and where criteria for software licensing are simply not pertinent. The only thing these activities have in common is that they somehow invite people to participate. They stretch the term so far that it only means "participatory"

Categories of free and nonfree software

Free software

Free software is software that comes with permission for anyone to use, copy, and/or distribute, either verbatim or with modifications, either gratis or for a fee. In particular, this means that source code must be available. "If it's not source, it's not software." This is a simplified description; see also the full definition.

If a program is free, then it can potentially be included in a free operating system such as GNU, or free versions of the GNU/Linux system.

There are many different ways to make a program free—many questions of detail, which could be decided in more than one way and still make the program free. Some of the possible variations are described below. For information on specific free software licenses, see the license list page.

Free software is a matter of freedom, not price. But proprietary software companies typically use the term "free software" to refer to price. Sometimes they mean that you can obtain a binary copy at no charge; sometimes they mean that a copy is bundled with a computer that you are buying, and the price includes both. Either way, it has nothing to do with what we mean by free software in the GNU project.

Because of this potential confusion, when a software company says its product is free software, always check the actual distribution terms to see whether users really have all the freedoms that free software implies. Sometimes it really is free software; sometimes it isn't.

Many languages have two separate words for "free" as in freedom and "free" as in zero price. For example, French has "libre" and "gratuit". Not so English; there is a word "gratis" that refers unambiguously to price, but no common adjective that refers unambiguously to freedom. So if you are speaking another language, we suggest you translate "free" into your language to make it clearer. See our list of translations of the term "free software" into various other languages.

Free software is often more reliable than nonfree software.

Open source software

The term "open source" software is used by some people to mean more or less the same category as free software. It is not exactly the same class of software: they accept some licenses that we consider too restrictive, and there are free software licenses they have not accepted. However, the differences in extension of the category are small: nearly all free software is open source, and nearly all open source software is free.

We prefer the term "free software" because it refers to freedom—something that the term "open source" does not do.

Public domain software

Public domain software is software that is not copyrighted. If the source code is in the public domain, that is a special case of noncopylefted free software, which means that some copies or modified versions may not be free at all.

In some cases, an executable program can be in the public domain but the source code is not available. This is not free software, because free software requires accessibility of source code. Meanwhile, most free software is not in the public domain; it is copyrighted, and the copyright holders have legally given permission for everyone to use it in freedom, using a free software license.

Sometimes people use the term "public domain" in a loose fashion to mean "free" or "available gratis." However, "public domain" is a legal term and means, precisely, "not copyrighted". For clarity, we recommend using "public domain" for that meaning only, and using other terms to convey the other meanings.

Under the Berne Convention, which most countries have signed, anything written down is automatically copyrighted. This includes programs. Therefore, if you want a program you have written to be in the public domain, you must take some legal steps to disclaim the copyright on it; otherwise, the program is copyrighted.

Copylefted software

Copylefted software is free software whose distribution terms ensure that all copies of all versions carry more or less the same distribution terms. This means, for instance, that copyleft licenses generally disallow others to add additional requirements to the software (though a limited set of safe added requirements can be allowed) and require making source code available. This shields the program, and its modified versions, from some of the common ways of making a program proprietary.

Some copyleft licenses, such as GPL version 3, block other means of turning software proprietary, such as tivoization.

In the GNU Project, we copyleft almost all the software we write, because our goal is to give every user the freedoms implied by the term "free software." See our copyleft article for more explanation of how copyleft works and why we use it.

Copyleft is a general concept; to copyleft an actual program, you need to use a specific set of distribution terms. There are many possible ways to write copyleft distribution terms, so in principle there can be many copyleft free software licenses. However, in actual practice nearly all copylefted software uses the GNU General Public License. Two different copyleft licenses are usually "incompatible", which means it is illegal to merge the code using one license with the code using the other license; therefore, it is good for the community if people use a single copyleft license.

Noncopylefted free software

Noncopylefted free software comes from the author with permission to redistribute and modify, and also to add additional restrictions to it.

If a program is free but not copylefted, then some copies or modified versions may not be free at all. A software company can compile the program, with or without modifications, and distribute the executable file as a proprietary software product.

The X Window System illustrates this. The X Consortium releases X11 with distribution terms that make it noncopylefted free software. If you wish, you can get a copy which has those distribution terms and is free. However, there are nonfree versions as well, and there are (or at least were) popular workstations and PC graphics boards for which nonfree versions are the only ones that work. If you are using this hardware, X11 is not free software for you. The developers of X11 even made X11 nonfree for a while; they were able to do this because others had contributed their code under the same noncopyleft license.

Lax permissive licensed software

Lax permissive licenses include the X11 license and the two BSD licenses. These licenses permit almost any use of the code, including distributing proprietary binaries with or without changing the source code.

GPL-covered software

The GNU GPL (General Public License) is one specific set of distribution terms for copylefting a program. The GNU Project uses it as the distribution terms for most GNU software.

To equate free software with GPL-covered software is therefore an error.

The GNU operating system

The GNU operating system is the Unix-like operating system, which is entirely free software, that we in the GNU Project have developed since 1984.

A Unix-like operating system consists of many programs. The GNU system includes all the GNU software, as well as many other packages such as the X Window System and TeX which are not GNU software.

The first test release of the complete GNU system was in 1996. This includes the GNU Hurd, our kernel, developed since 1990. In 2001 the GNU system (including the GNU Hurd) began working fairly reliably, but the Hurd still lacks some important features, so it is not widely used. Meanwhile, the GNU/Linux system, an offshoot of the GNU operating system which uses Linux as the kernel instead of the GNU Hurd, has been a great success since the 90s.

Since the purpose of GNU is to be free, every single component in the GNU operating system has to be free software. They don't all have to be copylefted, however; any kind of free software is legally suitable to include if it helps meet technical goals. And it isn't necessary for all the components to be GNU software, individually. GNU can and does include noncopylefted free software such as the X Window System that were developed by other projects.

GNU programs

"GNU programs" is equivalent to GNU software. A program Foo is a GNU program if it is GNU software. We also sometimes say it is a "GNU package".

GNU software

GNU software is software that is released under the auspices of the GNU Project. If a program is GNU software, we also say that it is a GNU program or a GNU package. The README or manual of a GNU package should say it is one; also, the Free Software Directory identifies all GNU packages.

Most GNU software is copylefted , but not all; however, all GNU software must be free software.

Some GNU software was written by staff of the Free Software Foundation, but most GNU software comes from many volunteers. (Some of these volunteers are paid by companies or universities, but they are volunteers for us.) Some contributed software is copyrighted by the Free Software Foundation; some is copyrighted by the contributors who wrote it.

Nonfree software

Nonfree software is any software that is not free. Its use, redistribution or modification is prohibited, or requires you to ask for permission, or is restricted so much that you effectively can't do it freely.

Proprietary software

Proprietary software is another name for nonfree software. In the past we subdivided nonfree software into "semifree software", which could be modified and redistributed noncommercially, and " proprietary software", which could not be. But we have dropped that distinction and now use "proprietary software" as synonymous with nonfree software.

The Free Software Foundation follows the rule that we cannot install any proprietary program on our computers except temporarily for the specific purpose of writing a free replacement for that very program. Aside from that, we feel there is no possible excuse for installing a proprietary program.

For example, we felt justified in installing Unix on our computer in the 1980s, because we were using it to write a free replacement for Unix. Nowadays, since free operating systems are available, the excuse is no longer applicable; we do not use any nonfree operating systems, and any new computer we install must run a completely free operating system.

We don't insist that users of GNU, or contributors to GNU, have to live by this rule. It is a rule we made for ourselves. But we hope you will follow it too, for your freedom's sake.

Freeware

The term "freeware" has no clear accepted definition, but it is commonly used for packages which permit redistribution but not modification (and their source code is not available). These packages are not free software, so please don't use "freeware" to refer to free software.

Shareware

Shareware is software which comes with permission for people to redistribute copies, but says that anyone who continues to use a copy is required to pay a license fee.

Shareware is not free software, or even semifree. There are two reasons it is not:

  • For most shareware, source code is not available; thus, you cannot modify the program at all.
  • Shareware does not come with permission to make a copy and install it without paying a license fee, not even for individuals engaging in nonprofit activity. (In practice, people often disregard the distribution terms and do this anyway, but the terms don't permit it.)

Private software

Private or custom software is software developed for one user (typically an organization or company). That user keeps it and uses it, and does not release it to the public either as source code or as binaries.

A private program is free software in a trivial sense if its sole user has full rights to it.

In general we do not believe it is wrong to develop a program and not release it. There are occasions when a program is so useful that withholding it from release is treating humanity badly. However, most programs are not that important, so not releasing them is not particularly harmful. Thus, there is no conflict between the development of private or custom software and the principles of the free software movement.

Nearly all employment for programmers is in development of custom software; therefore most programming jobs are, or could be, done in a way compatible with the free software movement.

Commercial software

Commercial software is software being developed by a business which aims to make money from the use of the software. "Commercial" and "proprietary" are not the same thing! Most commercial software is proprietary, but there is commercial free software, and there is noncommercial nonfree software.

For example, GNU Ada is developed by a company. It is always distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL, and every copy is free software; but its developers sell support contracts. When their salesmen speak to prospective customers, sometimes the customers say, "We would feel safer with a commercial compiler." The salesmen reply, "GNU Ada is a commercial compiler; it happens to be free software."

For the GNU Project, the emphasis is in the other order: the important thing is that GNU Ada is free software; whether it is commercial is just a detail. However, the additional development of GNU Ada that results from its being commercial is definitely beneficial.

Please help spread the awareness that free commercial software is possible. You can do this by making an effort not to say "commercial" when you mean "proprietary."


source:http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/categories.html#ProprietarySoftware

How to use ''control user password'' command in start-run option in xp sp2?

How to use ''control user password'' command in start-run option in xp sp2?


 ans: control userpasswords2
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