Free, as in Speech
is a phrase used in the Free Software
Community. Its alternate is free, as in beer
Due to a shortcoming in English, the word free has multiple meanings. When someone says "Free, as in speech," they are referring to something that you are allowed to do. Spanish-speaking countries use the word libre to represent this idea.
Applying this thought to software, in order for a program to be free, as in speech, it must meet the following requirements (per the GNU webpage at http://www.gnu.org)
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
- The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Note that free software
is not the same as open source software
See also: Free, as in beer, Free as in Freedom, GNU