Software Liberty/ Freedom

This time of the year in the FOSS community, the buzz is all about “Software Freedom Day!”

So what is “Software Freedom” all about??

This is for those who really don’t get the phrase!

Without getting into much technical jargon, basically what it means is,

Free Software

  • Freedom to access the source code,
  • Freedom to modify the source code,
  • Freedom to use it for whatever you want it to be used (in terms of the technical arena)

And finally,

  • Freedom to distribute your modifications.

What should be highlighted is that it only refers to the “Liberty” to use software.

Liberty to do what you want to do!

So why are they beating the bandwagon of free software??

The key benefit of it is the ability to access and modify the source code. One may ponder on, why would anyone be bothered about the source code without getting the work done? The best answer for this question was given by; Bob Young – Founder of the free software distribution company Red Hat.

Open source gives the user the benefit of control over the technology the user is investing in. This benefit is perfectly obvious to every programmer and system administrator I’ve ever spoken to, but it is sometimes tough for nontechnical journalists to grasp.

The best analogy that illustrates this benefit is with the way we buy cars. Just ask the question, “Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut?” and we all answer an emphatic “No.” So ask the follow-up question, “What do you know about modern internal-combustion engines?” and the answer for most of us is, “Not much.

We demand the ability to open the hood of our cars because it gives us, the consumer, control over the product we’ve bought and takes it away from the vendor. We can take the car back to the dealer; if he does a good job, doesn’t overcharge us and adds the features we need, we may keep taking it back to that dealer. But if he overcharges us, won’t fix the problem we are having or refuses to install that musical horn we always wanted — well, there are 10,000 other car-repair companies that would be happy to have our business.

We all are inquisitive to know how things work. We try to repair stuff or add new elements to the normal equipment we use in our day to day life. So why not be inquisitive when it comes to software?

In a developer’s prospect, accessing the source code would give an opportunity to figure out the problem or enhance the software by adding new features on your own without eagerly awaiting for a day when it will eventually happen. 🙂

And this is just one among many key aspects of Free Software.

17th of September is the Software Freedom Day and this liberty is available for anyone who is willing to get under the hood instead of being on the surface, and make a change!