Category talk:Free software

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description should mention source code

Which is this category for: gratis software or libre software? --Ellmist 02:44, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

libre. -- Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 10:24, 2004 Sep 10 (UTC)
I've reworded the intro. I didn't change the meaning, just the wording. However, I would like to change the meaning. "free software related" is a big category with a blurry boundary. How about using this category for "free software" (removed "related"). I.e. pieces of software, like Linux, like, like GNU Emacs. Not like Richard Stallman, or copyleft. (No people, concepts, licenses - just software.) Anyone disagree? Gronky 19:22, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
When I made that comment, I hadn't fully understood subcategories. Now I think "free software related" is ok, and the subcategories can contain specific topics such as software, people, licenses, etc. Gronky 01:57, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

Attention tag[edit]

Software here needs to be sorted by type (system, application, etc.) and probably cross-referenced by license. -- Beland 22:38, 24 July 2005 (UTC)

Yes, I think you're right about needing to sort by type. Gronky 02:06, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
We've started to do this (in part to help cleanup and eventually eliminate List of open source software). Help would be welcome! --Karnesky 06:25, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
Noticed your {{cleancat}}. I know a bit about this stuff; I'll help sort articles into subcategories. - Corbin 1 ɱ p s ɔ Rock on, dude! 02:23, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
Well done on the progress. I've started pitching in and have moved 200 articles from this category into subcategories. I think when there are 200 or less (1 page) of articles in the category, we can remove the cleancat tag. Gronky 17:56, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Separate category for programs[edit]

There's a Category:Free software projects, but very few articles are in it. It seems to me that articles about programs should go in that category rather than Category:Free software. — A.M. 06:53, 3 August 2005 (UTC)

What if one project, like KDE, makes many programs? There isn't different projects for Kate and KNode. It would be incorrect, if both the programs were in Category:Free software projects. -12:11, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
KDE is a project, and Kate is a project, and KNode is a project. There's no problem there. Gronky 01:55, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
A few people (including me) are in the process of creating cats for each type of application, which will clear most of the applications out of the main part of the list. We haven't considered using the free software projects cat. It might be a good idea, but the projects cat is currently small & only has 1 subcat. Also, it might not be needed once we subcat all of the software....--Karnesky 06:29, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Free vs. open source[edit]

User:Where and I have been creating several subcats in this category as to group software with similary functionality that was under a F/OSS license. But a nomenclature debate was sparked on my talk page. I've moved it here, for more general discussion.

Lately I believe there is re-organizing of categories of software going on. Most open source software are now re-grouped under the "Free" + "whatever type of software". But is it a good idea to call them 'Free' but not 'Open source'? -- Because to laymen, they may not understand the meaning of Free and will regard it as Freeware.
Case in point, IBM now offers DB2 as free (freeware) database and should we use the term "Free database management system" to categorize DB2 as well? I will suggest use the term open source instead of free to avoid confusion. While "Free software" is a well-recognized term as it has been used a lot in the media, "Free database management system" does not imply anything open source because the term "Free", when used alone, is still ambigous. - Zero0w 10:09, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I have no strong preference in either term, but would like to use whichever term consistently. "Free xxxx" was winning for subcats when we started re-categorizing some software. And the parent cat is "Free software." That is the only reason why I chose it. Perhaps we just need explanatory text in each category, as I had in Category:Free integrated development environments (perhaps linking to the licenses that the software will fall under & maybe a definition on "free" (though that is explained in the parent cat))? Otherwise, I think we should ask for all the cats to be renamed & that sounds like it would start a fight with people who do care about what term above the other.
(Parenthetically: "open source," itself, is somewhat ambiguous. Pine and Scilab come included with source, but aren't considered "free" by gnu or DFSG or "open source" by OSI.) --Karnesky 17:47, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
Open source licensing requirement could be ambiguous, but nowhere more ambiguous than the term "Free" when used alone. I think if the decision is not to make any differentiation between freeware and open source, it will also cause trouble -- Zero0w 06:57, 27 February 2006 (UTC) .
Before I made sub-cats, we had Category:Freeware and Category:Free software. I think my naming scheme for subcats is consistent (and all subcats are under "Free software.") For further consistent naming, someone can make other subcats like "Freeware Integrated Development Environments" and similar. So, this isn't really a "new" issue. Would short descriptions on the subcats be good enough, or are you advocating moving ALL "Free software" cats to "Open source software" cats? --Karnesky 17:23, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Zero0w above that categorising open source software as free is confusing (and I'm a long-standing Linux fan currently typing this on a Kubuntu machine). When I saw you had recategorised @Mail as Free, I went to their website expecting to find an announcement that it was available without charge.-gadfium 01:06, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
The @Mail was mostly a mistake based on the text of their page, which claimed to be "open source." Most would consider it to be "proprietary with source included." I have corrected the phrasing in the main text of the article (as well as recatting it). --Karnesky 17:23, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Please feel free to discuss further--only in the context of how the WP cats should be named. I have no interest in a prolonged flamewar or semantic argument: just in addressing legitimate concerns raised by gadium and Zero0w. --Karnesky 01:17, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

OK, if the use of the term 'free' is in the context of open source (that is with source code available and freely redistributable), I'll suggest use the term 'open source' instead. Think again, as a practical concern, should the item IBM DB2 joining the "Free database management system"? If the answer is yes, then how could it be differentiated with open source database? If no, then we standardize the term 'Free' as open source, and anything that is free beer should be termed as Freeware instead. So a new category called "Freeware database management system" will be used for DB2 and things like that.
Correct. DB2 would be in (the currently nonexisting cat) "Freeware database management systems." We have been fairly consistent with this usage, but it may not be "clear." --Karnesky 17:23, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I am aware of such a flame war even within the free software world. But the term 'free' itself is not always obvious, and we still need to categorize for item such as IBM DB2 despite any flamewars out there. -- Zero0w 06:52, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Meanwhile, if the term Free really means to represent "Free Software", please add an introductory sentence in any "Free + type of software" category so people will know it is open source - but the question of where freeware DB2 belongs to still hangs in the air. -- Zero0w 06:52, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
O.K. sounds like a good plan. Help would be appreciated! --Karnesky 17:23, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Let me try this one:
The term "Free" used in this Category [[:Category:Free + name of the Category]] refers to Free and Open Source Software, which in general accompanies a license that requires freely re-distribution of source code. For software which is "free" in the sense of zero monetary cost but without source code re-distribution, please check the category that starts with Freeware in its title, such as [[:Category:Freeware + name of the Category]].
So, what do you think? Zero0w 06:57, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Another suggestion: if you don't want to make the choice between Free vs Open Source, then use the term FOSS to represent them all - and keep in mind that FOSS is not Freeware. Zero0w 08:46, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

could the distinction be made on each category page? ie. "this page is a category dedicated to Free as in Speech xxx software, not Free as in Beer software?" that would make it much more clear.--naught101 03:50, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

It would be pointless to try to have separate categories for Free vs Open-Source software, or to try to distinguish between the two, because there's a great deal of overlap between them. I'd suggest naming this category one of the following:

  • Free and Open-Source Software
  • Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS)
  • Free/Libre and Open-Source Software
  • Free/Libre and Open-Source Software (FLOSS)
  • FOSS
  • FOSS (Free and Open-Source Software)
  • FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open-Source Software)

I'd recommend using "Free and Open-Source Software" for the category, and referring to the FOSS acronym in the opening section. If "FOSS" is used as the category name, this would confuse too many people. Including "/Libre" makes the phrase much less readable (and any such mention of "free as in 'libre'" could be deferred to the opening section). --Flash 15:56, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Or, if it's necessary for to choose between "free" and "open source" for the category (and the subcategories), I'd recommend "open source", for the following reasons:
  • All free software is open source, but not all open-source software is free. "Open source" is the only one of the two terms that encompasses both.
  • With open-source, there's no confusion about free as in freedom versus free as in beer (there's no confusion with the freeware category).
If one or the other is used for the category, it'd be a good to clearly mention in the opening section that the category encompasses both free and open-source software (and perhaps a brief comparable mention in the opening section for each subcategory). --Flash 16:07, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
That first point is a common confusion. "free software" and "open source" are two sets with 99.9% overlap, but neither is a subset of the other. The second point is wishful thinking - even microsoft have used the term "open source" to describe some of their (clearly not open source) software. Currently most or all subcategories have a brief note on what "free" means. Gronky 17:53, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

I'd like to revitilize this issue and second Flash's recommendation that we use Free and Open-Source Software as our naming convention. Any objections? Oberiko 17:25, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I object. That phrase is longer and more confusing than free software. Everyone knows it is too long because everyone abbreviates it to "FOSS", which is absolutely meaningless. It is more confusing because "open source" is redundant and people don't expect redundant words. Because people will assume they are not redundant, people will assume the two terms have different meanings and this this is a catch-both category. People can make this mistake in either of two forms. One is that they could think that this is a category for gratis open source software (so it would exclude commercial open source software), the other is that they will think that free software and open source software are different things, which they are not. Flash indeed make this confusion in his proposal, as I pointed out above. Flash's second suggestion, that both names be mentioned in the intro, has been adopted. Gronky 17:44, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
If this proposal has been accepted, can we then start filtering it down to other articles/categories? List of open source software packages immediately comes to mind. Oberiko 18:14, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
I would drop the term 'free' altogether in terms of categorization. Sure plenty of software is 'free', both open and closed source. Grocery stores sometimes give out 'free samples'. A true analysis of this category would probably break down 'free' into the intent - whether used as a promotional tool (i.e. a free basic version of my software so that you might pay for the full version), open source/ public domain tools that by their nature could not be anything but free.

Redundant subcategories[edit]

There's no need to repetitively use the terms "free" and "open source" for each subcategory, as they appear on this page. Even if it's necessary to include those terms in the actual name of the subcategory, the link on the category page can reasonably use the shortened form. Some of the reasons why:

  • The name of the category already implies that all of the subcategories relate to free or open-source software. Explicitly adding "free" or "open source" to each subcategory as they appear on this page serves no useful purpose and does not make the list of subcategories any more intuitive.
  • The repetitive use of the terms "free" and "open source" for the subcategories (as they appear on this page) is distracting and makes it more difficult to quickly skim throught the list of subcategories. --Flash 16:18, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand. You want the sub-categories to be displayed on Category:Free software without the "free" or "open" word? How can that be done? Gronky 17:31, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
Oops, looks like I made a newbie mistake. I was thinking that the category links are just like regular wiki links, where you can state them differently than the actual name of the link. If there was such a way, it'd make the page a lot more readable, but... well, I'll go hide my head in the sand now ;-) --Flash 20:48, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Feed aggregators?[edit]

Would a subcat for RSS/Atom feed aggregators be useful? Should I just add it, or should we talk about it? -- Steven Fisher 23:16, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes. Please add it & throw in the packages from List_of_open_source_software_packages#RSS.2FAtom_readers.2Faggregators & replace that with a mainarticle. Feel free to cleanup that list and this cat with other subcats too. --Karnesky 23:42, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

This category is hopeless[edit]

Hi, sorry to be a downer, but this cat seems totally hopeless. Yes, free software and open source software exist, but there is far too much out there to list in a category. This will forever not be able to keep up, nor will it be helpful. Wikipedia is not the source of all knowledge, and it is not a database of free software, so why bother with this category? Individual articles can mention that it is free software and provide a link to the products webpage. +mwtoews 22:11, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Aha. I see now that there are subcategories. These are actually helpful. I was concentrating on the items in the "Category:Free software". So let me clarify: the items in Category:Free software are hopeless, as they are too unspecific. I don't recommend articles about "free software" to be categorized as "Category:Free software"; however, the subcategories in "Category:Free software" is more helpful as they are specific, and articles should be classified according to those categories. So should those items in "Category:Free software" be cleaned up into their subcategories? +mwtoews 22:19, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, all members of Category:Free_software should be sorted into the subcategories. The only reason to add something to Category:Free_software is so that you or someone else can find it and sort it into a subcategory later. So if you see a page about free software, try to put it in a subcategory, but if you don't know of any suitable subcategory, putting it in Category:Free_software is better than doing nothing. Also, having articles in Category:Free_software shows us what subcategories are needed. For example, when there were a lot of text editors in Category:Free_software, someone made Category:Free_text_editors. Gronky 10:25, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Typically, this means software[edit]

Could anyone clarify the atypical cases, if any, where articles in this category would not be "distributed with a free software license" and whose source code is not "available to anyone who receives a copy of the software." The word "typically" seems to open the door for individual interpretation of free software which runs contrary to the consensus of this discussion. "Free enough" software seems to be the result. Hamitr 15:49, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

I think the additional context of software which can be freely used, copied, studied, modified, and redistributed by everyone that obtains a copy: "free software" or "open source software". is clear enough. Even using merely "free software license" is not enough. While the linked article does mention OSI-approved licenses, some may read the category's verbiage narrowly as "FSF-approved" licenses. The FSF hasn't gotten around to acknowledging every free/open license just yet. I think ANY FSF/OSI-approved license should be O.K. for inclusion in the cat. If a license definitely conforms to DFSG & FSF's "four freedoms," but has not yet received formal approval, I wouldn't object to the inclusion in the cat. --Karnesky 17:57, 12 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree completely. I wanted to make sure that was the consensus view. --Hamitr 21:42, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
I've commented on Talk:POV-Ray & would encourage you to do the same. --Karnesky 14:48, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
I added a poll, as we're starting to get the same comments from the same small group of people. Talk:POV-Ray#Free_software_categorization_straw_poll --Karnesky 22:15, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
Hamitr: One case of free software not being distributed as source code with a free software licence is when source code is released into the public domain, but maybe that is the only case, so we should include that case and remove the "typically". Gronky 09:12, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. My original inquiry was, I suppose, in anticipation of edge cases. I didn't anticipate a discussion popping up this fast, though. --Hamitr 13:24, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
If we eliminate "typically," I'd like it emphasized that "free software license" meant more than just licenses acknowledged as free by the FSF. As I posted in POV-Ray, we seem to correctly handle the majority of the most famous "edge cases." --Karnesky 14:18, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure that any wording would solve the argument on the POV-Ray article, but I've added to this categories description that it includes licences other than those on FSF's list. Gronky 14:37, 15 March 2007 (UTC)


Why is Category:Open source software a subset of Category:Free software? It should be vice-versa! All free software is open source, but not all open source software is free (also see the above discussion). --AVRS 08:10, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Neither is a subset of the other. They are overlapping sets, and the only difference is a few licences which are no longer used for anything.
Category:Open source software was deleted a long time ago and it shouldn't exist. Can someone nominate it for deletion? --Gronky 08:22, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I hope you don't mean to put things like unRAR (just an example, it doesn't have its own article) into Category:Free software? --AVRS 09:05, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't know unRAR, but if it's free software, it should go in, and if it's not, it shouldn't. This doesn't relate to the question of "open source". "Open source" is just a proposed replacement label for free software - the two names refer to the same thing. --Gronky 13:32, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
The unRAR license allows doing anything, except for recreating the RAR's compression algorithm. --AVRS 14:14, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
That description either means you can't make a modified program that rars and unrars files, or you can't make a program which compresses things using a modified version of the rar method. Whichever is the case, unRAR is not free software (and thus is not open source software either). --Gronky 14:18, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Close. It only prohibits creation of compressed RAR archives.
“Distribution of modified unRAR sources in separate form or as a part of other software is permitted, provided that it is clearly stated <… > that the code may not be used to develop a RAR (WinRAR) compatible archiver.” --AVRS 14:42, 17 September 2007 (UTC)