What Is Free Software? A Reply From The Source: Richard Stallman

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A few days ago I had the honour of hosting in my Rome apartment, freedom activist and hacker Richard Stallman, a near-like mythological figure in the world of computing, hacking and a pioneer figure in supporting free software as a political weapon.

Robin Good: What is free software from your point of view?

Richard Stallman: Free software means software that respects the user’s freedom. There are four essential freedoms that the user of software should always have:

* Freedom Zero is the freedom to run the program however you wish.
* Freedom One is the freedom to study the source code of the program and to change it to make the program do what you wish.
* Freedom Two is the freedom to distribute copies of the program to others, when you wish. Now this includes republication of the program.
* And Freedom Three is the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others when you wish, and this also includes publication if that’s how far you wish to go.

If you have all four of these essential freedoms then the program is Free Software. Which means that the social system of the distribution of this program is an ethical system that respects the freedom and community of the users.

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