Free software is about freedom, not price

I almost always call “free software”, “software libre” to avoid misunderstanding between price and freedom. Whenever I say free software, I should explain to people that by free software, I mean a software that respects freedom.

Free software is different with freeware. When we say free software, we mean free as in freedom. That’s why I call it free software. But there’s still some questions for people.

One of the questions people ask me is that if a software is libre, how can we make money from it? My answer is always simple and short. You can make money from free software the way you make money from proprietary software.

As I said before, free software doesn’t talk about price. You can sell your software or service easily the way you used to sell it always. The only difference between free software and proprietary software is that a free software respects users’ freedom and rights.

Yes. People can build their own software from yours and distribute it but users also have a choice. They can choose you over others if your software is worthy and useful enough for them.

There’s no rule about giving stuff for free (as in price) when you license your work under a free (as in freedom) license so you can sell the software easily. The only catch is that if you sell your software, the person who bought it is now the owner of his own copy.

There’s a lot of free software products that are not gratis (free as in price). For example, Fedilab is a Mastodon client that is premium. Another example is “SUSE Linux” GNU/Linux distribution which is free software but not gratis (free as in price).

Weblate is another free software that is not gratis. Weblate (a web-based localization software) sells subscription on its own hosts. Shuup is a multi-vendor marketplace software that has gratis and a enterprise versions and both versions are free software.

Software freedom is about users’ rights and freedoms. It doesn’t force you to give your software gratis so if this was a concern for you, stop worrying now and license your work under a free (as in freedom) license.

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Ali Reza Hayati

Entrepreneur, hacker, cypherpunk.