When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price, Richard M. Stallman.
The best things in life are free, Proverb.
Do you like computers, tablets, and smartphones? I’m sure you do. They all share something in common: software. Software is what makes hardware work and lets you get things done. For instance, a video game is a software program designed for entertainment.
There are two main categories of software: system software and application software. System software is the basic software needed for a computer to operate. Examples of system software include operating systems like Windows, GNU/Linux, and macOS.
Operating systems are the backbones of computer systems and the basic interface between users and their computers.
GNU/Linux is a free operating system originally created by Linus Torvalds in 1993. It’s available for everyone to download and use free of charge. Linux comes in many flavors, we call them distributions, such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Fedora.
What does free really mean? Free software is like cooking for yourself. It is more work, but it is cheaper, tastier, you know what you are doing (you have the recipe), and it is better for you. Free software means you are free to download, use, copy, modify, and distribute it.
Application software refers to programs that perform specific tasks for end-users and organizations, such as games, word processors, spreadsheets, and image processing software.
Therefore, a computer is basically an electronic toolbox for working with information. You can use it to create and format text documents (it also corrects your spelling and grammar mistakes), keep in touch with your family and friends (Instant Messaging “IM”, Video Chat, etc.), edit and share images or videos (red-eye removal, remove unwanted objects or apply filters), play games, perform mathematical calculations, shop online, etc.
Free software is more reliable and secure than proprietary software. They typically use open data formats available to anyone, which allows for accessibility, future-proofing, and seamless passing on of valuable information.
Nowadays, Vendor lock-in is a major concern. When you use proprietary software, you are taking the risk of being stuck with a provider that may change its prices, quality, support, uptime, or change their products or service offering entirely, e.g., LastPass changed its free tier to only allow a single category of device -mobile or computer.
Adobe shifted its software offerings to a monthly subscription licensing model back in 2011, and many other companies have followed suit. Subscription fatigue, in other words, a bunch of individually low monthly fees piling up to a significant amount of money, is a very serious issue, many can simply not afford it and are cutting the cord.
Adoption of free software is on the rise, increasing across the globe day by day. It allows users to cooperate in enhancing and refining the programs they use, schools to teach children to share and cooperate, public administrations and companies to share, adapt, and reuse applications and data.
“Free software is more secure because you and the wider community are independently able to read the source code of and customize any program you use in your infrastructure. It saves you from relying on a secretive third party, and the public availability of free software code means that many qualified eyeballs, the security experts and researchers around the world, are continually studying and reporting on its integrity,” Windows 7 Sins, The case against Microsoft and proprietary software. A message from the Free Software Foundation, 2009.