Free Software and Freeware

Nowadays on the internet you could practically search and locate any kind of software just by typing the keywords or related phrases into any of the major search engines such as Google or Yahoo. And it’s not just software I am referring to, but “fr.e.e” software – software that you could download, install and use without having to fork out a single dime! It is possible to believe that if anyone could envision a task, activity, function or use that could be made easier or even be automated, there is a software out there that has been developed for that purpose! And chances are that you could also find one that is free to download, install and use!

However, one may have several doubts and questions about the whole realm of “fr.e.e” software.

Questions like:-

(1)What actually is termed as “fr.e.e” software?

(2)Are there any limitations to it’s usage in the context of business?

(3)Why does programmers and developers develop fr.e.e software?

Firstly, let’s define what is “fr.e.e” software. There are essentially 2 type of “fr.e.e” software:

(1)Freeware

(2)Free Software

Freeware

Freeware is software that is zero-cost or free in price terms and is usually referring to a common group of software programs that can be downloaded, installed and used in most operating systems. However, they are usually copyrighted and as such they may not be free to modify, share or to be reused in your new software developments, unless they are listed under “public domain software”.

Free Software

Free software is software that anyone may freely use, run, share and modify, at any time, for any reason. However, to re-distribute it, the only condition is that the distributed version of the free software must be done without altering the original terms of fr.e.e use, modification and distribution under the GNU General Public License(http://www.gnu.org), as stipulated by the Free Software Foundation (http://www.fsf.org/). The word “free” in the term “free software” is about freedom, not price. People are allowed to sell free software or distribute it for a fee and the person who buys the software may change it or give it away.

In terms of limitations, fr.e.e software tends to have less limitations in it’s scope and flexibility in it’s usage than freeware, as far as the community of users, programmers and developers are concerned.

But why are programmers and developers so willing to develop fr.e.e software? One of the answers, surprisingly, is that it is actually cheaper to develop free software! Any such software is usually put together using a number of smaller software program packages which are also developed and distributed under the GPL (General Public License). The completed software is then distributed to a community of beta testers which includes programmers to try out and give their feedback on existing bugs and often accompanied by patches which are corrected parts of the software program to fix these bugs.

In some cases, the programmers develop these software simply because they want to include some features that does not currently exist in paid software. They may also want to develop it in a different manner such as to make it more simplified or user-friendly. Most programmers also do it for the passion or challenge of solving some existing need or problem with their skills and deriving the personal satisfaction from the free software’s widespread usage and popularity.

In conclusion, most if not all users will always welcome more such fr.e.e and useful software, as a result of whichever objective they may be developed for. However, there’s only one thing all users need to bear in mind – the safest approach to it’s legal usage would be to install it only for your own use and NOT attempt to sell it or distribute it for profit, unless you are completely certain of it’s origin and classification.

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Free Software is Better Than Whatever

What’s better than free? Free love, free food, free land, and, best of all, software. There’s free and then there’s the best free. That’s what you’re after when bringing software into your system, the best free software possible.

This software will simply and perfectly perform the functions you expect it to perform, what it claims it will perform. These functions might be part of the critical operations of your system as used by you, functions you often have to perform to get your work done. If free software cannot realize the functions you expected from it, it’s really free junkware and should be avoided.

Of course, if it’s free, you save money. The nice thing about software is that you can test it without purchasing and discarded it if it fails to work without feeling the bite because, well, it’s free. For you, a positive indicator that the software will prove reliable is the availability and extent of software support. The best free software will always provide product support. This is good news for engineers, programmers, data base managers, all who fear free software will take away their jobs: all will continue to have valid roles in the method of intelligent human control of automated systems. The ship will require its crew.

Justly reciprocating, the software creator will give it a life of it’s own; it will become, like an Adobe, or a Firefox, that is, an honorable, standards-based software package with pride of position, first in support, dedicated to solving the problem rather than fixing the blame. If it’s that good, maybe the provider might ask for voluntary donations.

The best source for information on software is the world renown “PC Magazine”. This magazine has been the premier source for all things PC since the PC hit the markets. In one of their compilations of best free software, they determined that if you bought the same software they listed as free, you would be paying about $5,183 for the complete set. That’s a couple of new desktops at today’s prices, and some fancy laptops too. The smart money is on seeking the best free software before paying for what might in fact be the worst.

The all time greatest software packages are well known and ubiquitous. You can expect to find “Adobe Reader”, for instance, on nearly ever PC you come across. It’s PDF format is a standard web document format, and with the plugin, you can use the reader in your browser and take Adobe to new heights.

Of course, for top quality, best software for the office, no other can compete with “OpenOffice”. Many prefer it to Microsoft’s equivalent office suite. It has a professional word processor with all the capabilities you expect out of a commercially viable writer, a sophisticated spreadsheet, a graphics designer, a presentation tool to rival Microsoft’s “Powerpoint”, and a data base package to rival its “MS Access” database. There’s everything there for a new or small business and the savings are astounding.