Free software movement

The free software movement (also known as open source movement, free and open source software movement and abbreviated FSM, OSM or FOSSM) is a relatively new social movement which aims to promote user's rights to access and modify software. Although drawing on traditions and philosophies among members of the 1970s hacker culture, Richard Stallman is widely credited with launching the movement in 1983 by founding the GNU Project. [cite web
title=Announcement of the GNU project
url=http://www.gnu.org/gnu/initial-announcement.html] |
]

The free software philosophy at the core of the movement drew on core and incidental elements of what was called hacker culture by many computer users in the 1970s, among other sources.

Philosophy

Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation in 1985 to support the movement. The philosophy of the movement is to give freedom to computer users by replacing proprietary software under restrictive licensing terms with free software, [cite web
title=Use Free Software
publisher=gnu.org
url=http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/use-free-software.html|
] with the ultimate goal of liberating everyone "in cyberspace" [cite web
title=Stallman interviewed by Sean Daly
url=http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20060625001523547
publisher=Groklaw
date=2006-06-23|
] – that is, every computer user.

Members of the free software movement believe that all users of software should have the freedoms listed in the free software definition. Many hold that it is immoral to prohibit or prevent people from exercising these freedoms and that these freedoms are required to create a decent society where software users can help each other, and to have control over their computers. [cite web
title=Why free software?
url=http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-free.html
publisher=gnu.org|
]

Some adherents to the free software movement do not believe that proprietary software is strictly immoral. [cite web
title=Copyleft: Pragmatic Idealism
publisher=gnu.org
url=http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/pragmatic.html|
] They argue freedom is valuable (both socially and pragmatically) as a property of software in its own right, separate from technical quality in a narrow sense.

The Free Software Foundation also believes all software needs free documentation (in particular because conscientious programmers should be able to update manuals to reflect modification that they made to the software), but deems the freedom to modify less important for other types of written works. [cite web
title=Free Software and Free Manuals
url=http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-doc.html
publisher=gnu.org|
] Within the free software movement, the Floss manuals foundation specializes on the goal of providing such documentation. Members of the free software movement advocate that works which serve a practical purpose should also be free.Fact|date=September 2008

Actions

Writing and spreading free software

The initial work of the free software movement focused on software development.

The free software movement also rejects proprietary software, refusing to install software that does not give them the freedoms of free software. According to Stallman, "The only thing in the software field that is worse than an unauthorised copy of a proprietary program, is an authorised copy of the proprietary program because this does the same harm to its whole community of users, and in addition, usually the developer, the perpetrator of this evil, profits from it." [cite web
title=Transcript of Stallman on Free Software
date=2006-03-09
url=http://fsfeurope.org/documents/rms-fs-2006-03-09.en.html]
publisher=FSFE|
]

Building awareness

Some supporters of the free software movement take up public speaking, or host a stall at software-related conferences to raise awareness of software freedom. This is seen as important since people who receive free software, but who are not aware that it is free software, will later accept a non-free replacement or will add software which is not free software. [cite web
title=Transcript of Stallman speaking at WSIS
url=http://fsfe.org/en/fellows/ciaran/ciaran_s_free_software_notes/transcript_of_rms_at_wsis_on_is_free_open_source_software_the_answer#wsis--importance-of-awareness
publisher=Ciaran O'Riordan|
]

Legislation

A lot of lobbying work has been done against software patents and expansions of copyright law.

The Venezuelan government implemented a free software law in January 2006. Decree No. 3,390 mandated all government agencies to migrate to free software over a two-year period. [cite web
url=http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/professional_services_venezuela/
title=Free software liberates Venezuela
publisher=Free Software Magazine n°10
date=2006-02-08|
]

Congressmen Dr Edgar David Villanueva and Jacques Rodrich Ackerman have been instrumental in introducing in Republic of Peru bill 1609 on "Free Software in Public Administration". [cite web
url=http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Free_Software_in_Public_Agencies
title=An English translation of the Free Software bill proposed in Peru|
] The incident immediately invited the attention of Microsoft Inc, Peru, whose General Manager wrote a letter to Dr Edgar David Villanueva. Dr Edgar's response received worldwide attention and is still seen as a classical piece of argumentation favouring use of Free Software in Governments. [cite web|url=http://www.gnu.org.pe/resmseng.html|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070829215908/http://www.gnu.org.pe/resmseng.html|archivedate=2007-08-29|title=Peruvian Congressman Edgar Villanueva writing to Microsoft about free software.|]

In the USA, there have been efforts to pass legislation at the state level encouraging use of free software by state government agencies. [cite web
url=http://news.cnet.com/2100-1001-949241.html
title=Open source's new weapon: The law?
]

Internal conflict

Like many social movements, the free software movement has ongoing internal conflict between personalities and between supporters of compromise versus strict adherence to values.

Open source

In 1998, some companies met to create a marketing campaign for free software which would focus on technology rather than ethicsFact|date=February 2008. After this Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens, founded Open Source Initiative OSI, which promotes the term "open-source software" as an alternative term for free software. OSI does not agree with the free software movement's position that non-free software is a social problem or that it is unethical. [ [http://www.urbanophile.com/arenn/hacking/fsvos.html "Free", "Open Source", and Philosophies of Software Ownership ] ]

OSI advocates free software (under the name "open-source software") on the basis that it is a superior model for software development rather than it being a social or ethical issue. [cite web
publisher=gnu.org
url=http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html
title=Open Source misses the point|
]

tallman and Torvalds

The two most prominent people attached to the movement, Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds, have deep philosophical differences. This has fueled many dramatic news articles, but has not prevented Stallman from using Torvalds' kernel or Torvalds from using Stallman's GNU General Public License.

Measures of progress

Ohloh, a web service founded in 2004 and launched in 2006, monitors the development activity in the free software community, providing detailed metrics and quantitative analyses on the growth and popularity of projects and programming languages.

Criticism and controversy

Is something impeding progress?

Some, such as Eric Raymond, criticise the speed at which the free software movement is progressing, suggesting that temporary compromises should be made for long-term gains. Raymond argues that this could raise awareness of the software and thus increase the free software movement's influence on relevant standards and legislation. [cite web
url=http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/world-domination/world-domination-201.html
title=ESR's "World Domination 201", on the need for more compromise by the free software movement|
]

Others, such as Richard Stallman, see the current level of compromise to be the bigger worry. [cite web
url=http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/use-free-software.html
title=RMS on the progress of the movement and his worry about compromise|
] [cite web
url=http://www.libervis.com/article/richard_stallman_on_world_domination_201
title=Richard Stallman on "World Domination 201"
quote=I cannot agree to that compromise, and my experience teaches me thatit won't be temporary. ... What our community needs most is more spine in rejection of non-freesoftware. It has far too much willingness to compromise. ... To "argue" in favor of adding non-free software in GNU/Linux distrosis almost superfluous, since that's what nearly all of them havealready done.
]

See also

* Free Culture Movement
* Free software community
* Free Software Foundation
* GNU Manifesto
* Linux adoption
* Open Source Initiative
* BadVista
* Defective by Design

External links

* [http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2005/09/29/what-is-free-software.html What is Free Software?] - Essay by Karl Fogel.
* [http://fsfeurope.org/documents/rms-fs-2006-03-09.en.html The Free Software Movement and the Future of Freedom] , a 2006 lecture by Richard Stallman
* [http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-intro.html Free Software Movement intro by FSF]
* [http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/ The GNU Project Philosophy Directory] , containing many defining documents of the free software movement
* [http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/4795 An interview with Stallman, "Free Software as a social movement"]
*Christian Imhorst, [http://www.imhorst.net/translations/anarchy-and-source-code/ "Anarchy and Source Code - What does the Free Software Movement have to do with Anarchism?] ", (licence: GFDL), 2005
* [http://www.zeuux.org/law/billxu-rms-drm.html An anti-DRM campaign] - by Bill Xu and Richard Stallman
* [http://www.apdip.net/news/fossdoc The Codebreakers - a freely redistributable movie]

References

Further reading

* Johan Soderberg, "Hacking Capitalism: The Free and Open Source Software Movement", Routledge, 2007, ISBN 0415955432


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Free Culture movement — The free culture movement is a social movement that promotes the freedom to distribute and modify creative works, using the Internet as well as other media.The movement objects to overly restrictive copyright laws, or completely reject the… …   Wikipedia

  • Free software — or software libre is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with minimal restrictions only to ensure that… …   Wikipedia

  • Free Software Magazine (China) — Free Software Magazine (FSM) was a China based attempt, in 2002, at a free content magazine, typeset with LaTeX, on the Free Software Movement, free software and related issues, which was very similar to the more recent globally distributed Free… …   Wikipedia

  • Free software licence — A free software licence is a software licence which grants recipients rights to modify and redistribute the software, which would otherwise be prohibited by copyright law. A free software licence grants, to the recipients, freedoms in the form of …   Wikipedia

  • Free software community — The free software community is an informal term referring to the users and developers of free software as well as supporters of the free software movement. [Some examples showing that, and how, free software community is used: *cite web… …   Wikipedia

  • Free Software Foundation — infobox organization image border = size = 300px caption = msize = mcaption = abbreviation = FSF motto = Free Software, Free Society formation = 1985 10 04 extinction = n/a type = NGO and Non profit organization status = Foundation purpose =… …   Wikipedia

  • Free-software community — The free software community is an informal term that refers to the users and developers of free software as well as supporters of the free software movement.[1] The movement is sometimes referred to as the open source software community or a… …   Wikipedia

  • Free Software Foundation Europe — Infobox Company name = Free Software Foundation Europe type = charitable association foundation = March 10 2001 location city = location country = location = Germany locations = key people = area served = industry = products = services = revenue …   Wikipedia

  • Software patents and free software — Opposition to software patents is widespread in the free software community. In response, various mechanisms have been tried to defuse the perceived problem. Positions from the community Community leaders such as Richard Stallman, [cite web… …   Wikipedia

  • Free Software Foundation of India — The Free Software Foundation of India, is a sister organisation to the Free Software Foundation. It was founded in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), the capital of Kerala in 2001, [ [http://noticias.hipatia.info/modules.php?op=modload name=News… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”