Open source and free software are not the same, but does it matter?

Since he was born Linux as kernel, there were controversies, it is said that Linus Torvalds He was not sure about giving away his kernel, he finally did, but not because he had finished convincing himself of the ideology of stallman but to probably get better feedback and, I suppose, to take advantage of the GNU project.

I think that already in that indecision of the purposes We could already see two factions within the Linux world, as close as opposed, as well as liberalism versus conservatism, such as socialism versus capitalism. I'm talking about open source (open source) and free software.

Weren't they the same?

I'm sorry to tell you that no, they are not the same and in LXA! We are going to show you what the difference is:

What is free software?

It is the flank of the people of the GNU and, therefore, of Richard Stallman. They say that the software must be free alwaysThey hope that one day all software will be free and require their followers to use only free software and do not allow the provision of proprietary software. Licenses approved by the Free Software Foundation do not allow the software code to be closed again.

Their statement of principles (they call it the four freedoms) is as follows:

  1. Run the program for any purpose
  2. Study and modify the program
  3. Copy the program so that you can help the neighbor or anyone
  4. Improve the program and publish improvements

The licenses that meet these views are:

So what is Open Source?

People in favor of open source are more pragmatic than idealistic, if the ideas of free software are close to Stallman, these are the closest to Linus Torvalds, they don't care that all the software in the world is free rather, they believe that it would be better to have the source code to modify it at will. They are grouped in the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

They believe in 10 principles:

  1. Free redistribution: the software must be able to be freely given away or sold.
  2. Source code- Source code must be included or freely obtained.
  3. Derivative works: redistribution of modifications must be allowed.
  4. Integrity of the author's source code- Licenses may require modifications to be redistributed only as patches.
  5. No discrimination of individuals or groups: no one can be left out.
  6. No discrimination of initiative areas: Business users cannot be excluded.
  7. License distribution- The same rights should apply to everyone who receives the program.
  8. The license should not be specific of a product: the program cannot be licensed only as part of a larger distribution.
  9. The license should not restrict other software: the license cannot oblige that any other software that is distributed with the open software must also be open source.
  10. The license must be technologically neutral- Acceptance of the license by mouse click access or otherwise specific to the software medium should not be required.

¿They looked at point 9? If you wanted a clear difference between free software and open source, there you have it.

La OSI accepts the licenses of the FSF plus a set of many others licenses that are also open.

Does all this matter?

Personally, I think that knowing the difference between these two positions does matter, now we already know that in the Linux world there are two positions, that not everything is black, there is also gray.

I leave you with a quote from Paolo Colonello (the creator of Bligoo, the blogging platform) who explains it to us with apples:

As an example, an advocate for Free Software in front of Windows it would say something like:

"This software is immoral, since I do not have the right to see what it does on my computer ”and a defender of the Open Source would say "This software is of poor quality since few people have participated in its development and it depends on a single company (Microsoft) to evolve "

What side are you on?

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  1.   Juan C said

    Thank you very much for the simple explanation you give. I am on the open source side, the truth is if I have to pay for software that does what I need and there is nothing else on the market, well, it doesn't matter, it pays. But first you have to look for options, both to save your pocket, and to obtain advantages in software that are not published due to the little marketing that many companies or programmers can do.

  2.   Lester Fibla Saavedra said

    I would say that free software is an ideology, while opensource is a development methodology.

  3.   Sergio said

    I consider myself on the open source side. I think that freedom must also exist for the programmer when choosing the way to distribute his code, if he does not want to share it, it should not be considered as something immoral, but rather he prefers to keep his work private and take care of maintaining the software himself.

  4.   Roberto said

    Please, to all comments: read more about SL before talking about fundamentalisms and being more open-minded. Nobody puts a gun to your forehead or puts you in jail for not using free SW, but for violating a copyright.
    Regardless of whoever it may be, EVERYTHING is political and our decisions, no matter how small, have repercussions at all levels.
    SW today is 'inflirted' in all areas of life and, for better or for worse, it will penetrate to the depths of our intimacy: are we sure we are going to let others design it or take away the possibility of leaving it to you? a third party to audit?

  5.   bachi.tux said

    I've always liked Open Source. Fundamentalism should not be part of computer life, and Free Software must from time to time "have to lower a change", and subtract so much fanaticism that it can cause blindness, to the point of using ONLY Free Software and nothing more than SL!

    Enough of Fundamentalisms. They have done us a lot of harm to humanity ...

  6.   I am said

    Roberto, For violating copyright laws they don't put a gun to your head either. Now, if you are violating copyright and 5 minors, maybe there are. You have to be a little less extreme in life, you have to choose the gray ones, because nothing is 100% good or bad.

  7.   bachi.tux said

    Roberto: the fundamentalist thing (and if ... I had to jump because you said it for me) I said it because IN MY OPINION (and there you do not enter there or anyone else), every time I hear about Free Software, it crosses my mind head to Ricardito Stallman, who has 2 or 3 distros that are to his liking, because the others are not 100% Free.

    Maybe I feel hurt that you say that we should read more. Is that if someone enters LXA, he comes across this article, he can give the opinion that he pleases (always respecting others and speaking with certain criteria), but putting a gun to the head, I think you do it by asking that the comments have a little more "coherence" and that we read something that you have read and we have not.

    Sometimes, you have to accept the way people see and think. As far as I know, true freedom is in "knowing how to choose", and not in EVERYTHING being 100% free and "annihilating" the Microsoft empire (many believe it should be like that), and I repeat: IN MY OPINION R.Stallman (whom I don't know) defends these things: 100% Free Software.

    I hope you respect my opinion and my way of seeing things, and I apologize for my opinion without having read what you have.

    A big greeting.

  8.   dark hole said

    Due to the copyright violation, they do not point a gun at a person .. Because normally those who have these legal suits are sane enough not to escape or try to flee .. If they did, as there have been cases, few but they have given, you get to those actions .. It is still a crime, not as serious as someone's death, but it is a crime.

  9.   niyiru said

    This is a KEY issue not only because it concerns us as linuxers but because it contains what will be the decision that will turn around the big software industries when people learn to value this, things will change drastically.

    However, I believe that Stallman's idealism is radical, for example his idea of ​​copyleft is as restrictive as that of copyright and does not allow an easy transition for companies, the important thing for now is to coexist between proprietary and open source applications and then take the big leap.

    But this is certainly how the software of the future should be licensed.

  10.   123 said

    It's funny, how many people turn to defend open source, but to understand the differences between Free Software and Open Source Software, we must place ourselves on the side of the software user (most of us here I think we are). Once we realize that we are users, we would understand that the best thing that can happen to us is that the software is free, since open source is only the vision of those who produce software and make money with it, generally large companies.
    With free software, its users will never lose the advantages of open source, since technically all software that is free falls into the category of open source software, but the reverse is not the case.

    I recommend that you read the book "Free Software for a Free Society" by Richard M. Stallman, perhaps you will come to understand the free software movement.

  11.   123 said

    Ah! Another important thing, there is an error in the article, where it says:
    "Licenses approved by the Free Software Foundation do not allow software code to be closed again."
    Well, there are also licenses, and they are considered free, that allow closing the source code, such as the modified BSD license, the one mostly used in * BSD systems, which Apple used to develop its Mac OS X system based on the FreeBSD kernel.

  12.   f sources said

    @ 123: Your last comment went to spam, but I've already reinstated it.

    In that same sentence I wanted to say what you mentioned.

    On that page you cite, the FSF shows all the licenses with which a copyleft software can legally work to remain such, which does not mean that they are to the taste of the FSF. They are speaking there from the legal framework.


  13.   Quiliro said

    Open source folks want software to work with any ethics. They don't care if it hurts people's Freedom. What it focuses on is that companies can have greater profitability and that technicians have more to pay.

    Free software always has values ​​to get the job done. This is a better description of the differences.

  14.   adario said

    Congratulations on the article, excellent.

  15.   arescorpio said

    Well in the case of open source we would be talking about the corporate linux kernel full of proprietary blobs that accept the GPL3 (General Public License 3) with which all open source distros make reference.
    But on the other hand there is Linux-libre:
    with which (without any corporate brand) the 100% Free Software distros are natively formed: (Among which Trisquel 4.0.1 'taranis' stands out for being so advanced:, good for example we have those blessed distros as valuable and complete as any proprietary open source ubuntu, debian, openSUSE, etc.
    Of course, the difference between free software and open source matters, so much so that all the programs in the firmware as well as in the applications and libraries (and no proprietary program is used throughout the world wide web) of the 100% free operating system. avoid all software that is not totally free under the GPL and GPL2.
    Surely the defenders of open source will come out saying "well if you want to make free, for example, debian squeeze install linux-libre and that's it, it's free software" but there will still be the possibility of adding proprietary repositories to the sources.list file. This is so for any open source distro. On the other hand, if you want to add a repository to the sources.list file of gNewSense or UTUTU or Dragora (for example), when you later update the database in the terminal you will have the message: 'command not found' because they DO NOT accept proprietary repositories 100% Free distros.