Richard Stallman came up with the concept of free software in the 1980s. Free software means that the user is allowed to run, study, modify and distribute the software. The only condition is any redistributed version of the software has to stick with the original terms which include free use and redistribution. Since users are free to change the software they may have access to the source code. The most popular example of free software is Linux. The operating system has been proposed as an alternative to Windows. Open source software has plenty of similarities with free software. It is a type of software where the copyright owner of software gives users permission to study, change, and redistribute it for their own use. The source code is released under a license.
Even though open source and free software licenses overlap, there are major philosophical differences between them. Their views are entirely different. Open-source stands for a method of development while free software is more like a movement that emphasizes o the freedom of the user
The two are now used under the broad term free and open-source software also known as free/libre open source software (FLOSS) or FOSS which seeks to balance out the features of both software and their advantages. While free software refers to a lack of restrictions on users and a lack of fee, open source software mostly refers to collaborative development. Free and open source software focuses on the benefits of both. Both paradigms have grown popular as they challenge the traditional modes of software designs.
Free and open source software is now used widely. It is used in all industries. One of its main benefits is that it is easy to download. The policies which control the cycle of traditional software cannot apply to free and open source software because they have different characteristics for reuse, licensing, and reliability of the source. There are policies for free and open source software which address these needs. Some of the traditional software markets that have converted to free and open source software include web servers, enterprise operating systems, and embedded operating systems. Many software leaders have embraced the change and made their software available as free and open source. Some of them include Sun, HP, and IBM.
FOSS allows a user to inspect the source code. It helps them to have a high level of control over the functioning of the software. Proprietary software does not offer such benefits. Contrary to what the name may suggest, free software may not necessarily mean free of monetary costs. It means freedom to do with the software as the user pleases. Users of FOSS can benefit from four freedoms; unrestricted study, copy, use, and modification.
With proprietary software, manufacturers may build backdoors or other undesired features into their software. With FOSS software, users do not have to worry. They can always check the source code for any of such features. Being aware of vulnerabilities may protect a user from threats.
Free and open source software is often free of charge. Users can make donations if they please. The availability of this software free of charge makes it possible for users to access many software types and compare them to find the most appropriate one for their needs.
It is possible for many parties to come together with the aim of developing efficient software. It encourages many individuals and parties to make their contributions.