FLOSS/FOSS - alternative terms for free software
Free software - is the term introduced by
Richard Stallman in 1983 for software which the user can use for any
purpose, study the source code of, adapt to their needs, and redistribute
- modified or unmodified. The ambiguity of the English word "free" in the
term means that, if not explained, "free software" can be misunderstood to
mean software that is available without charge. To address this, and to
avoid talking about the impact on freedom of non-free software, many
people have suggested alternative names.
"Open-source software", "Software Libre", "Free/Libre/Open-Source
Software (FLOSS)", and "Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS)"
are the most common alternative terms.
The most popular of these has been "open-source software". So much so that
one goal of the FLOSS and FOSS terms has been to avoid taking a side in
the "free software" vs. "open-source software" debate.
Users of each of these terms share almost identical license criteria and
development practices, but differ, according to Richard Stallman, in the
respective philosophical values. Some people use "libre" to avoid the
ambiguity of the word "free". However, these terms are mostly used within
the free software movement and are slowly spreading. Stallman endorses the
terms FLOSS and FOSS to refer to "open source" and "free software" without
necessarily choosing between the two camps, but he asks people to consider
supporting the "free software" camp.
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