Portal:Free software

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Free software (or "software libre") is software that is distributed in a manner that allows its users to run the software for any purpose, to redistribute copies of, and to examine, study, and modify, the source code. The term was coined in 1983, with "free" denoting the broad freedom given to users, rather than software that is free of charge (which is freeware). Open-source is not always free, though.

The free software movement was launched in 1983 with the primary goal of developing free software replacements for the proprietary software that was at that point heavily relied upon. Projects born from the movement include GNU, Linux-libre, LibreOffice, and, on network servers, Samba, and the Apache web server.


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The Wireshark logo

Wireshark is a free packet sniffer computer application. It is used for network troubleshooting, analysis, software and communications protocol development, and education. In June 2006 the project was renamed from Ethereal due to trademark issues.

The functionality Wireshark provides is very similar to tcpdump, but it has a GUI front-end, and many more information sorting and filtering options. It allows the user to see all traffic being passed over the network (usually an Ethernet network, but Wireshark also supports decoding 802.11 frames and even USB traffic) by putting the network card into promiscuous mode.

Wireshark uses the cross-platform GTK+ widget toolkit, and is cross-platform, running on various computer operating systems including FreeBSD, Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows. Released under the terms of the GNU General Public License, Wireshark is free software.



Although there was free software before, in 1983 Richard Stallman launched the free software movement and founded the Free Software Foundation to promote the movement and to publish its own definition of free software. Others published alternative definitions of free software, including the Debian Free Software Guidelines and the Berkeley Software Distribution-based operating system communities.

In 1998, Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond began a campaign to market open source software and founded the Open Source Initiative, which espoused different goals and a different philosophy from Stallman's.


Operating systems


Impediments and challenges
Digital rights management · Tivoization · Software patents and free software · Trusted Computing · Proprietary software · SCO-Linux controversies · Binary blobs
Adoption issues
OpenDocument format · Vendor lock-in · GLX · Free standards · Free software adoption cases
About licences
Free software licences · Copyleft · List of FSF-approved software licenses
Common licences
GNU General Public License · GNU Lesser General Public License · GNU Affero General Public License · IBM Public License · Mozilla Public License · Permissive free software licences
History of...
...free software · Free software movement
Groupings of software
Comparison of free software for audio
Naming issues
GNU/Linux naming controversy · Alternative terms for free software · Naming conflict between Debian and Mozilla


Featured and good articles

A number of articles on Free Software topics have been designated featured or good articles:

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