Free software

The only limitation that may be placed on the process of using, modifying, and redistributing free software is the requirement that any version that is passed on must include the initial license, which allows for unlimited use, distribution, and modification (known as copyleft). Both the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation define the parameters of what is considered to be free software. The term "free software" refers to the ability to reuse it, either modified or unaltered, as a component of another software package. This is what the "free" part of the term means. There are businesses that will bundle and sell free software under their own brand name. Users of free software may have access to the software's source code and may inspect it as part of the software's capability to be modified.

The concept of free software is generally acknowledged to have been conceptualized by Richard Stallman, the man who initiated the GNU Project. The most well-known example of free software is Linux, an operating system that is often recommended as a replacement for Windows or other proprietary operating systems. Debian is an example of a distributor that specializes in Linux package distribution.

Free software is sometimes confused with freeware, which is software that is freely available and functional but may contain restrictions on modification and reuse. Freeware is the term used to describe software in this context.

See also the definition of Open Source, which is the same.

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