Free software is software that gives users the freedom to copy, change and distribute the software. The term free software includes all software that is not proprietary, i.e. that is available to everyone under the terms of a free software license. Free software includes software that is distributed under the terms of the GPL.
The term free software was conceived by Richard Stallman and developed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The GNU Project was started in 1983 and its main goal was to create a free operating system, which was named GNU. Free software is available for many platforms and development environments. The development language is C. The GNU Project uses the network-interconnected computers (e.g., FTP, HTTP, and e-mail) to the world to provide the best software free to the users, and run the GNU Project from its server in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Wikipedia)
A large number of free and shareware software applications are distributed as open source software. Free and shareware software usually have one-time purchase prices. The source code is freely available but you have to pay for the program in order to use it. License, security and technical support is provided to end users. A free and shareware software can be licensed to use, modify and share the original source code. Typically, this license allows for free and personal use of the software.
The GNU project is an organization that develops the GNU operating system, the GNU C compiler, GNU Emacs editor, GNU Debugger, GNU Debugger, GDB Debugger, and many other free software tools. GNU is a trademark of the Free Software Foundation.
The benefit of open source software is that it is free, easy to understand and modify. You can try out some open source software. In addition you can make the original source code available to other programmers. For example, the GNU Project, the Linux kernel, and Apache web server are all open source projects.
Free software is not merely free, it is also free to use and/or modify. If you distribute copies of free software, you may make that software free again by giving the recipients the right to download these copies.
The GNU General Public License (GPL), a widely-used free software license, requires that you make the modified work available to everyone. It means that if you distribute copies of the work, you must also distribute the modified versions under the same license. This allows others to freely use and modify the work.
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