Free/OpenSource Software Model

Free/OpenSource software


The free/open source software movement supports the freedom to use, modify and distribute the software. The access to the source code guarantees the possibility to modify it.

The "free software" has born at the beginning of the '80s, mainly thanks to Richard Stallman, the promoter of the Free Software Foundation.


In 1998 the foundation of the Open Source Initiative was formed, and it has greatly contributed to the diffusion of the model.


The term Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) or Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) is a hybrid definition related to that movement, but neutral as far as the “ideological” aspect is concerned.
The term FLOSS was adopted by the European Commission (June 2004) while studying the subject. In 2004, it appeared as an English definition in some official documents of various countries, among them Spain, Brazil and South Africa. In FLOSS, the F can be also the initial of the German word Frei while L can refer to the French and Spanish Libre, the Portuguese word Livre and the Italian term Libero.


The idea of Free Software spread at the beginning of the '80s, mainly thanks to Richard Stallman, the promoter of the Free Software Foundation (, "dedicated to promoting computer users' rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs".
According to Stallman, four concepts of freedom need to be guaranteed:


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)


the freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour (freedom 2),


the freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3).

Since the word free means "not restricted/limited/controlled" as well as "gratis/without any charge", Stallman and his movement explain: Free software'' is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in "free speech,"not as in "free beer". In 1983 Stallman promoted the project GNU - Gnu is Not Unix - to produce a free operating system of the Unix type, a powerful operating system of which many versions already existed on the market, mainly copyrighted.
As far as the OpenSource Initiative is concerned the position of FSF is as follows: "Another group has started using the term 'open source' to mean something close (but not identical) to 'free software'. We prefer the term 'free software' because, once you have heard it refers to freedom rather than price, it calls to mind freedom. The word 'open' never does that".


The Open Source Initiative, OSI , was founded in 1998 by a team involved in the field of free software, stimulated by the choice of Netscape to release its own browser source. They aimed at publicising their ideas and practice to impose them on the market. They successfully met their goal.

Although it is simplifying the issue, it is possible to say that while Stallman accentuates the ethical aspect - it is a problem of freedom! - the members of OSI want to promote the practise of free software/open source by using the argument that collaboration will produce better software . This is based on the principle "people use it, people adapt it, people fix bugs".

Moreover they want to involve companies in this methodology by showing that it can be economically advantageous