Free Software

Free Software is software that guarantees a set of freedoms to its users. It is 'free' as in freedom not as in 'free of charge'. Although a variety of terms are used to refer to it, at FSFE we prefer to talk about Free Software because this better reflects the philosophy of the four freedoms which are intrinsic to it.

The Free Software movement was started by Richard Stallman in 1983 when he inaugurated the GNU project. This was based on the idea that people should have full control over the software they own. Stallman recognised that in order to achieve this, access to a computer program's source code was a fundamental requirement. Beyond the realm of just the computer industry, the struggle for Free Software has extended to the adoption of laws on open standards.