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Free Software

The opposite of free software is proprietary software. The distinction lies in the freedom the software allows its user, and not in the price. Software is said to be free if it gives the user the freedom to make changes like improvements and other modifications. Users of proprietary software are generally restricted from studying how the software works, sharing it with others, or trying to make modifications. Such attempt could land them in jail or face fines and penalties. The users are supposed to follow the guidelines and restrictions provided, under the fine prints of the terms and conditions of use, which they agree to while installing the software.

Whether a software is obtained free of charge or for a fee, does not define whether it’s free or not. Rather, it is some four basic freedoms that determine whether the software is free or not. These basic freedoms and privileges are.

Freedom to Run the Program

This freedom allows the user to run the program for any purpose, and on any kind of computer system. In this case, the right and purpose of the user override that of the developer. Therefore, the developer cannot impose any restrictions on the user. Consequently, the user can further share the program with a third party, who will as well have the right to use it without any restrictions being imposed on them.

Freedom to Study how the Program Works

This enables the user to do their computing the way they wish. It is paramount for the user to have access to the source code. This right has been instrumental in driving the development of the free software products. The free software users are able to make adjustments to the programs and these adjustments can be adopted by specific users or globally.

Free Distribution of Copies

The users are free to make a distribution of copies of the software at their will. Once a user obtains the free software, they are not restricted from sharing the programs with their friends or any other people they wish to share with.

Distribution of Modified Copies

Lastly, the user can also distribute the modified copies of the software. The user is required to give the community access to the source code so that they can benefit fully. The modified copies can be used privately or shared and there is no precondition to notify anyone of the modifications. The user can also publish the changes if they wish to, and this does not require any preconditions to be met as well.