Short explanations of free software

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Explaining the idea of free software can be difficult. Let's list our favorite short explanations here, and pick the ones we like best. There is also a list of example answers to common topics that the Rapid Responders use for reference.

  • Free software is software that you're free to use however you want, understand, modify, and redistribute. These freedoms create conditions such that *we* control the software we use, rather than big companies using it to control *us*. Software freedom also provides a basis for collaboration (since everyone is free to build on each others work) which sometimes happens at an incredible scale. Working together, free software developers have built a entire operating system (GNU/Linux) that's used by millions of individuals, organizations, and for-profit companies.
  • "Oh, I don't use that software for ethical reasons." "Huh? ... ethics? software?" "Yeah, I use free software, software that's free as in freedom. Software that you're allowed to use for whatever you want, modify, study and share. You know how when you install Microsoft Office, before you can use it, you have to click the 'I Agree' button in response to all that legal text that no one every reads, but everyone knows involves signing away their first born children? Well, free software is the opposite of that." etc.
  • Another explanation goes here...