This topic page is an introduction to the world of Free Software. Free Software is also called Open Source Software. Thus, one often sees the term "Free/Open Source Software", or FOSS. We use the term "Free Software" here, because it came first.
What is Free Software?
To put it as succinctly as possible: Free Software is about Freedom
Free Software is not owned by any one person, group, or organization. It is the common property of everyone. Anyone is free to copy, distribute, and use the software. Anyone can view or modify the source code of the software. Anyone can distribute modified copies of the software. Indeed, you are encouraged to do all of this.
While Free Software is almost always "free" in the sense that there are no license fees associated with it, the important part is the freedom, not the price. This is a common point of confusion. The English language, unfortunately, uses the same word -- "free" -- to mean both libre
(free to act) and gratis
(without charge). Several slogans have been coined to try and clear things up: "Think Free Speech, not Free Beer" and "Free as in Freedom" are popular.
There is a lot of history behind Free Software -- it goes back to the earliest days of computing. There are organizations devoted to it, and companies which make money on it. Yes, you can make money on Free Software. It's a different business model, but it is proven to work. We encourage you to explore some of these other sites to learn more about it.