Key Organizations in Free & Open-Source Software

The Free Software Foundation (often abbreviated for “FSF”) is a non-profit corporation, based in Boston, Massachusetts, that was originally founded by Richard Stallman in 1985.

The goal of the Free Software Foundation is to support the development of free software (by which the Free Software Foundation means “free” as in “freedom”). In the early days, the Free Software Foundation was largely focused on the development of the GNU Project (which aimed to build a substantial body of free software, including a free operating system), but in more recent years, the organization, although still pushing forward the GNU Project, has also begun to provide a much broader range of support to free software developers, including campaigns, legal education, legal enforcement of free software projects’ copyrights (for those projects for which the FSF holds the copyright), issuing of awards, hosting of development projects, and more.

For many people, the Free Software Foundation is most familiar for the software licenses and other licenses that it has developed. These include the GPL version 2, the GPL version 3, the LGPL, and the GFDL (the “GNU Free Documentation License”). These licenses are used by both the FSF itself for its own projects, and are also available to be used by (and are in fact used by) others – for example, the Linux kernel is released under the GPL version 2, and OpenOffice is released under the LGPL.

The Free Software Foundation has also established a number of sister organizations around the world: the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) in Germany, the Free Software Foundation of India in Thiruvananthapuram, India, and Free Software Foundation Latin America in Argentina.

There are many reasons to download free software. The biggest reason is that it is free to download, use and share with a friend. There are tons of free software titles out there to download on the web. You can download anything from free games, office suites, instant messaging programs and many others types of software.

You can even access web-based software that won’t take up room on your hard drive and that can be accessed anywhere you have a Internet connection. Many are freeware, shareware and trial software that allow you to try it before you buy it. However there is a a downside to free software. Many free software titles have limited or no technical support if something goes wrong or does not work as it was intended to. You can always check out the software forums, but this can be very time consuming.

You can also pay for technical support for you free products. This can get expensive depending upon your knowledge of the subject and how much the tech support person on the phone knows about that software product.The software that you pay for may have new options and programs that may really want. You must decide if the extra features are worth what you are going to pay for. The key in purchasing software: Is the software going to do what you want it to do? You must decide what you want it to do for you. Then you can make the decision to download the software for free or purchase the full version by download or at your local retailer.


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