Free vs. open source software – what’s the difference?
Open Source

Free vs. open source software – what’s the difference?

Although business may often use the terms interchangeably, there is a small, but fundamental difference between free and open source software that organizations should be aware of.

Essentially the same category of software, the difference lies in the values and beliefs behind their creation, which can affect licence implications and upkeep costs.

In a nutshell, open source is a development and distribution paradigm, whereas free (freedom, not zero cost) is a social movement. For software to be considered ‘free’, it must be possible to exercise the ‘four freedoms’: to make use of the programme for any purpose, to access the source code and study and change it as you wish, to redistribute freely copies of the software, and to distribute freely modified versions of the software.

Providing an API is not the same as ensuring users aren’t locked in: The difference between ‘open’ and ‘open source’

“The free movement believes the world should be rid of non-free – i.e. proprietary – software. Its ideology dictates that the user should be completely liberated from the controls of the software developer,” explains Zohar Babin, VP of Platform and Growth at Kaltura. “The open movement, by contrast, is about open access to software code. It’s practical, and far less political: it’s about getting access to the source code so that the user can modify and share it with the community. The open movement doesn’t advocate against one license or another, but rather promotes a practical approach where people can decide on what is most suitable for their needs ­– including proprietary options.”

To continue reading...


«‘Sakawa boys’: Meet the professional internet fraudsters of Ghana


US ‘hacking back’ law could create a cyber wild west of vigilantism»
Keri Allan

Keri Allan is a freelance journalist and editor who has been covering the engineering and technology sector for over 15 years, writing for titles including E&T Magazine, The Engineer and Arabian Computer News.

Recommended for You


How a Washington crackdown on Huawei could backfire for everyone

Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond


5G is over-hyped and expectations need reining in

Dan Swinhoe casts a critical eye on the future


What can we learn from tech initiatives in the Middle East?

Keri Allan looks at the latest trends and technologies

More Like This

Our Case Studies

IDG Connect delivers full creative solutions to meet all your demand generatlon needs. These cover the full scope of options, from customized content and lead delivery through to fully integrated campaigns.


Our Marketing Research

Our in-house analyst and editorial team create a range of insights for the global marketing community. These look at IT buying preferences, the latest soclal media trends and other zeitgeist topics.



Should the government regulate Artificial Intelligence?