Thoughts on Free Software.

Table of Contents


I have been using Free software for almost 1.5 years now. This article is about some of the thoughts I have been having.

Getting beginners to use Free software


Well, most people really learn about the Free software movement via the Open-source movement, I haven't encountered anyone in my daily life or on the internet from my generation, who was introduced to Free software before they were introduced to Open-source software.

I can't help but think there is only one reason for it, namely, Corporate funding. The proprietary people (with their money) started embracing Open-source because the name itself is a distraction from Freedom. Granted, if you read the Open-source declaration, it would sound a lot like Free software. But to most ordinary people, Open-source software either means gratis software or source-available software.

Only those, who really dig into the history of the Open-source movement come to learn about the Free software movement.

Gratis vs Free

Many people think that Free software means software that is free of charge. This is a big confusion, the Free in Free software is the Free in Free speech. What they confuse Free with, Gratis, means free of cost.

Free software is about Freedom not the cost.

The half-realization

Another annoying confusion, happens due to people who only get to learn about Open-source. Let's take this conversation,

Me: GNU Emacs is free software.
Open-sourcer: Actually, Emacs is not just free of cost, its also
Open-source which means the source code is available.
Me: -_-

Here, the Open-sourcer thinks Free stands for gratis. And thinks I am the one that's confused. I then have to tell them about the Free software movement or not (if I don't want to spend my time doing that).

"Linux" community

I don't understand how this happened. But people seem to conflate the Free Software movement (also applies to the Open-source movement) with the Linux community. I am sure, most people are running a distribution of GNU/Linux do know that Linux is just the kernel (or so I hope).


Many of you might have rolled your eyes when you saw me use the term, "GNU/Linux", why is that? Why do we call it GNU or Linux at all, its a big software bundle, including packages from GNU, the kernel from Linux, and many other software projects, like KDE, Gnome, Systemd etc. When people who are against calling it GNU/Linux say,

Why don't you call it GNU/KDE/SYSTEMD/LINUX?

Well, I think the best way to refer to a distribution is to call it by its name. Secondly, I think the users should have the freedom to call their operating system whatever they want. When people ask me which operating system I use, my usual answer is Garuda. And sometimes, I say Garuda/GNU/KDE/Linux, by doing this I am giving credit to most projects I want to promote. I think this is the solution to problem of "GNU/Linux" vs "Linux".

Promising greater technical capabilities

Users of non-free software are often convinced to switch a GNU/Linux distribution by promising them with technical capabilities of Free software. While some of these promises are true. I think this approach misses the point of Free software, that is "Freedom".

Many of these users have high expectations, and when these are not met they go back to their proprietary software. Even if they do switch to a relatively free distribution of GNU/Linux, they still try to install the same non-free programs on it. Again, that misses the point of Free software.

I think, people should talk more about the ethical issues of non-free software instead of distracting from the important issues of Freedom by talking about technical capabilities of Free software. Because a huge corporation may make a better non-free software and people who were lured into use Free software for greater technical capabilities will not think twice about switching back to using non-free software.

Author: tusharhero (

tusharhero's pages is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0

Date: 2023-09-10 Sun 20:12

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Emacs 29.0.50 (Org mode 9.5.5)