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The 3rd Issue of the Free Software Magazine

The History of the GPL

Software Wars


Free Software (Open Source)

Welcome to free-soft.org, a web site dedicated to Free Software (Open Source)

last updated January 6, 2003

What is Free Software?  What is Open Source?

Free Software, as used in this web site, refers to software distributed in source form which can be freely modified and redistributed, or freely modifiable and redistributable software.   It does not refer to zero-cost software.   This usage of the name "Free Software" was common in the Unix world and recently introduced to the general computer community.  Free Software is also referred to as Freed Software, Liberated Software (software libre) or FRS (freely redistributable software).   "Open Source" is a marketing name for Free Software, coined in Feb 1998 as an attempt to overcome the confusion over the word "free" in the English language.   Open Source refers to the fact that the source code of Free Software is open to and for the world to take, to modify and to reuse. The precise meaning of Free Software is spelled out in the Debian Free Software Guidelines or the Free Software Definition while Open Source is defined officially by the Open Source Definition. Open Source and Free Software refer to, originally the same (around Feb 1998), but now different but largely similiar, set of software, but they emphasize different rationals; see Why ``Free Software'' is better than ``Open Source'' for more explanation.

The 3rd Issue of the Free Software Magazine (mirror of http://www.rons.net.cn/english/FSM/issue03)

Examples of Free Software/Open Source

The following are some well known Free Software:
Operating Systems
General Utilities
Windowing Systems
Desktop Environments
Web Browsers
Productivity Applications
Office Suites
Server-type software
Linux (or GNU/Linux)



GNU Utilities




The X Window System




Mozilla (Netscape 6)

GNU Image Manipulation Program

Open Office








Major personalities in the Free Software/Open Source community

Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project.  Profiled in Steven Levy's 1984 book, Hackers: the Heros of the Computer Revolution as the Last True Hacker, he started the Free Software movement in the 1980s and is considered by many to be the father of Free Software/Open Source.
Linus Torvalds, initial author and top maintainer of the Linux kernel, and possibly the most respected figure in the community.
Larry Wall, author of the popular Perl language.
Eric Raymond, author of the famous paper The Cathedral and the Bazaar, and responsible for the popularization of the name Open Source
Bruce Perens, editor of the Debian Free Software Guidelines and the Open Source Definition, the former considered by the community as the basic law.
Alan Cox, active contributor and maintainer of the Linux kernel.
Guido van Rossum, author of the Python language.
Miguel de Icaza, founder of GNOME.
(e-mail [email protected] to suggest people that you think sould be listed here but are currently missing)

Major organizations for Free Software/Open Source

Free Software Foundation
Free Software Foundation Europe
Free Software Foundation India
Software Liberty Association of Taiwan

Software in the Public Interest and its Debian GNU/Linux and Debian GNU/Hurd projects
Linux International
The Open Source Initiative
The XFree86 Project
The Free Standards Group, parent of the Linux Standard Base
The Apache Software Foundation
The GNOME Foundation
The KDE League
Affero, a company enabling fundraising for projects and causes in open source/free software.

Major Free Software websites

Slashdot.org, major community and news site with forum
Freshmeat.net, major software release annoumcement site
Advogato.org, the advocate site for free software developers

The current role of Free Software/Open Source in the software landscape

Free Software is making rapid progress in penetrating the territory currently dominated by Microsoft.   Free Software like Linux has become the main challenger to the Microsoft empire.

Additional Reading (Free Software/Open Source literature)

Additional material can be found here.

This site is under construction. For now, visit the saga of Software Wars!

Open Source is a trademark of the Software in the Public Interest.
Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds.
GNU is a mark of the Free Software Foundation.

Free Software: the Software by the People, of the People and for the People!

for comments, e-mail: [email protected]