Talk:FSF's "free software" ideal/old article

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This is material from the old version of Free software which should either be merged into that article or Freeware.

The term free software is used in two essentially different ways:

  1. Software which, once obtained, can be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed;
  2. Software which can be used and copied without payment.

Free software of the first type is often made available online without charge or offline for the cost of distribution; however, this is not required, and software can be "free as in free speech" and sold for profit. Similarly, free software of the second type is sometimes published with source code; however, the software is not free in the first sense unless the rights to modify and redistribute modified versions of the program are guaranteed.

The distinction between these two senses, as defined by Richard Stallman, an advocate of free software in the first sense, is between "free as in free speech" and "free as in free beer". In many languages the these two terms are translated differently. In the French language, free software in the first sense is translated as logiciel libre and the second is logiciel gratuit. Similarly, in Spanish, the first sense is software libre and the second is software gratis. In English, the terms "software libre" and "gratis software" are sometimes used to distinguish the two meanings of "free".

Free software as in "no charge"[edit]

Various types of free software in this sense exists:

  • Freeware, software that can be distributed and used without cost. Few strings are attached; sometimes only private, non-commercial use is allowed. The software may not be modified, and sometimes may also not be redistributed.
  • Adware, software which displays advertisements during use. Legit adware is often a kind of shareware which may be used for free with ads, other adware is a kind of spyware which comes with advertising. This second kind is often installed without the consent of the installee.
  • Spyware, collects market research data and/or credit card numbers from the host computer. Also often (if not always) installed without consent.
  • Crippleware, software which can be used in a limited form for free; the enhanced version typically requires payment (see shareware).

The following are freely available to a greater or lesser degree, but are not properly "free software" in this sense:

  • Shareware's license requires payment for use beyond a specified trial period. The payment typically has to be made by the user on an "honor system".
  • Warez is current proprietary software which is distributed for free by a third party in violation of its copyright license.
  • Abandonware is software which is used and distributed in violation of copyright license, like warez, but is no longer sold or developed by its owner. Often distributors justify this violation of copyright by claiming to be offering a service to those who have previously bought a program that has been corrupted (for example by an expired floppy disk). Copyright of the software may or may not be enforced by the owner depending on their views of this arrangement. As an extra aside several developers have voluntarily made some of their older software available as abandonware (e.g. Impressions Software and Rockstar Games) either for customer good will or publicity purposes.

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