For me free software is not a technical term but more of a philosophical method.
This is a method dealing with freedom in the meaning of free speech.
Software usually means technical staff and thus people think that “free software” is a technical term, however that is not the case. Free software is a philosophical method that regards freedom of thought and freedom of speech.
It started from software and thus the name “free software” but today the methods of free software are used in many areas. The most outstanding example is wikipedia where thousands of people world wide are contributing to generate the best encyclopaedia.
I have written a lot about it in my Hebrew blog. In the near future I hope to write more about it here.
There are many examples of free software and it seems that today there is no computer system without free software.
Free software is a software that anyone is free to learn how it’s written, anyone is free to change it and publish it again.
A free software must have 4 essential freedoms.
Copied from http://www.fsf.org:
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour (freedom 2).
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.