Free and Open Source Software

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What is Free and Open Source Software?

Freedom is an important part of our lives. For software it means that we can not only use the software as we like, we can also pass it on to others and modify it to fit our needs. This is in contrast with software that comes with a license with a lot of restrictions. Mostly with the legitimate goal for someone to make money, but often with the side effect of reducing our freedom in an annoying way.

The terms Free Software and Open Source Software mostly have the same meaning. More about that on the terms and licenses page. Since Free Software is often confused with for-free software - the CDs you get with a new computer - the term Open Source is used by most people. But an organisation that works hard to promote Free Software, the Free Software Foundation, objects to the term Open Source. Therefore we will use FOSS here: Free and Open Source Software.

A related subject is Open Standards. These are standards that can be used without permission or a license fee. In contrast with standards that require the user to sign a contract and/or pay a fee to be allowed to use the standard. This also means the standard is free of patents, or all relevant patents have been explicitly opened up for free use.

A Dutch version of the Open Source Definition, originally written by Bruce Perens, can be found on the VOSN site.


terms and licenses   Explains the terms "Free Software", "Open Source Software" and "Open Standard". Gives an overview of the licenses that are being used.
software patents   Explains why software patents are bad for FOSS.
resources   Gives you help for using and creating FOSS.
why use FOSS?   If you need to convince your boss that FOSS is good, you find reasons here. Also for when you need to convince yourself.

Something wrong or missing? Please send a message to < Bram AT >.           Last modified: Tue Jul 27 2004 21:25:13 UTC +0200