Free software, freedom-respecting software, or software libre is computer software distributed under terms that allow the software users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute the software and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty, not price: users, individually or collectively, are free to do what they want with it, including the freedom to redistribute the software free of charge, or to sell it, or charge for related services such as support or warranty for profit.
The right to study and modify software entails availability of the software source code to its users. While this right is often called ‘access to source code’, the Free Software Foundation recommends to avoid using the word ‘access’ in this context because it is misleading and may make people believe that they may have a copy of the source code unconditionally. This right is only conditional on the person actually having a copy of the software, i.e. being a software user.
Richard Stallman used the already existing term free software when he launched the GNU Project—a collaborative effort to create a freedom-respecting operating system—and the Free Software Foundation (FSF). The FSF’s Free Software Definition states that users of free software are free because they do not need to ask for permission to use the software.
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