LibreOffice is free software. This means that it’s totally free of charge to download and use – a benefit that many people appreciate. But free software is about much more than just saving money; it’s about having freedom to control our own computers and devices. Free software is incredibly important for digital freedoms, security, privacy and civil rights. All together, free software is a movement.
So what defines free software, compared to proprietary software? The Free Software Foundation outlines four key freedoms that we should have as users of the software. Here’s a summary:
- The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change its source code
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your friends and colleagues
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others, so that they can benefit
Fundamental to this is the license under which the software is made available. LibreOffice is released under the Mozilla Public License Version 2.0, a free and open source license that lets everyone share the program – and gives everyone the right to study how it works and modify it.
The importance of freedom
Free software is essential to the success of LibreOffice. Because of the license it uses, anyone can join our community and help to improve the software. The low cost of ownership means that developing countries can reap the benefits of LibreOffice without having to spend large amounts of money. And no company can take LibreOffice and lock it up as proprietary, closed software forever.
Now, most LibreOffice users are not software developers. And they may ask: “Apart from the low cost, how do I benefit from LibreOffice being free software?” The best response to this is: with free software, you control your computer. With proprietary, closed software – where you can’t study how it works or modify it – the software controls you. Sure, some proprietary software may look tempting in terms of technical features, but without the four freedoms listed above, you don’t truly have control of your software, your computer and your data. Someone else does.
One common misconception is that free software means no money for developers. This simply isn’t true! While the software itself is free to download, many companies make money by providing extra services on top: documentation, technical support, and bespoke features. Look at our certified developers, for instance, and then consider all of the companies making money around the GNU/Linux ecosystem. You can develop free software, help make the world a better place, and still earn a good living as well!
A big thank you
Of course, LibreOffice is just one example of a well-known free software project. Others include GNU/Linux, Firefox and KDE – but there are thousands more. Today we celebrate the vibrant, rich and active communities around the web that are working hard to provide us with all of this great software – so we’d like to say a big thank you to all LibreOffice developers, and indeed everyone else working on free and open source projects.
Keep up the great work!