FSF Philosophy

According to Free Software Foundation (FSF), Free software is a matter of the users freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it means that the program's users have the four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

At the heart of FSF is the freedom to cooperate. Because non-free (free as in freedom, not price) software restricts the freedom to cooperate, FSF considers non-free software unethical. FSF is also opposed to software patents and additional restrictions to existing copyright laws. All of these restrict the four user freedoms listed above. "Free software" does not mean "noncommercial". A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important. You may have paid money to get copies of free software or you may have obtained copies at no charge. But regardless of how you got your copies, you always have the freedom to copy and change the software, even to sell copies.

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