Free Software and RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Free software is free as in freedom not free as in beer, better expressed by the french word "libre". Free software is defined as software which lets the user have these freedoms:
0: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.

1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.

3: The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

So you shouldn't be surprised to learn that plenty of free software developers get paid for their work and plenty of free software projects are actually supported by companies who don't want to pay for proprietary software and want the free software developers to work on specific features for them; in addition sometimes the free software developers will get to charge companies (that use their software) for tech support.

But just observing this misses one of the main points of free software. It doesn't have to be economically sustainable because a lot of people create it just because they love it. See why this actually works and motivates people to write free software:


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