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Fosdem: A Festival of Free

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OSS

The Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting (Fosdem) in Brussels, Belgium, attracts about 3,000 people every year, and last month marked its eighth edition.

With all the hype surrounding free and open source tools the operating system Linux, the Web server software Apache, the Web browser Mozilla Firefox, it is easy to forget the men (and, occasionally, women) who develop them. It is their shared passion for software that works the way they want it to that keeps this movement going, bringing innovation to computing and the Web at a pace that proprietary software developers can only dream of.

Freed to Run, Examine, Share
The basic freedoms that define free software are thus: the freedom to run a program for any purpose; the freedom to examine that program, to pick it apart and to put it back together again in a way that suits you; and the freedom to share those changes. What this means is that code is not squirreled away for commercial profit. Instead, it is shared across geographical boundaries, among communities, open to anyone who feels they have a useful contribution to make, be they in Marseilles, France, or Macclesfield, UK.

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