Free Software Movement
People use free software operating systems such
as GNU/Linux for various
reasons. Many users switch for practical reasons: because the system
is powerful, because it is reliable, or for the convenience of being
able to change the software to do what you need.
Those are good reasons—but there is more at stake than just
convenience. What's at stake is your freedom, and your community.
The idea of the Free Software Movement is that computer users deserve the freedom to form a
community. You should have the freedom to help yourself, by
changing the source code to do whatever you need to do. And the
freedom to help your neighbor, by redistributing copies of programs to
other people. Also the freedom to help build your community, by
publishing improved versions so that other people can use them.
Whether a program is free software depends mainly on its license.
However, a program can also be non-free because you don't have access
to its source code, or because hardware won't let you put a modified
version into use (this is called “tivoization”).
Our detailed definition of free
software shows how we evaluate a license to see if it makes programs
free software. We also have articles about certain
specific licenses explaining the advantages and disadvantages of
some licenses that do qualify, and why some other licenses are too
restrictive to qualify.
In 1998 the term “open source” was coined and associated
considerably different from ours. These views cite only the
practical advantages of free software, and carefully avoid the deeper
issues of freedom and social solidarity that the Free Software
Movement raises. The idea of open source is good as far as it goes,
but it only scratches the surface of the issue. We don't mind working
with supporters of open source on practical activities such as
software development, but we do not agree with their views, and we
decline to operate under their name.
If you think that freedom and community are important for their own
sake, please join us in proudly using the term “free
software”, and help spread the word.