Freeware and free software sound very similar. What is the relation between them?
Freeware is software that is released and can be downloaded and used without cost. No other rights are implied by the freeware label (although the author might offer more). So freeware doesn't imply:
- access to the source code
- commercial use
- right to redistribute
- right to change
All things free software does allow. Free software is defined by the four freedom it grants:
- Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
- Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
- Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
- Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.
The difference is elaborated on in the answers to this question.
Among the restrictions commonly imposed on freeware are:
- No source code is provided (so you cannot adapt or review for security holes).
- No permission to adapt, even if source code is provided.
- Restrictions on type of use. (E.g. "This program can only be used for good, not evil.")
- Restrictions on type of users. (E.g. "This program can not be used by the military.")
- Restrictions on distribution. (E.g. "You're not allowed to redistribute its program. it shall only be available for download from the website
However, this list is by no means complete.
Free software on the other hand, obliges the author to make available the source code to anyone who receives the program, and the owner (or others) can not impose any restrictions on type of use, type or user, or distribution.
Why does Freeware and Free Software sounds similar?
The English adjective free is commonly used in one of two meanings: "for zero price" (gratis) and "with little or no restriction" (libre). So, "free" is ambiguous (i.e. freedom/cost).
For clear understanding visit the wikipedia article : Gratis versus libre.
Freeware is computer software that is made available free of charge, but which is copyrighted by its developer, who retains the rights to control its distribution, modify it and sell it in the future. It is typically distributed without its source code, thus preventing modification by its users.
A program is free software if the program's users have the four essential freedoms:
- The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
The "free" in "freeware" refers to the price of the software, which is typically proprietary and distributed without source code.
The "free" in "free software" refers to freedoms granted users under the software license (for example, to run the program for any purpose, modify and redistribute the program to others), and such software may be sold at a price.
License & Rights
- Software classified as freeware may be used without payment and is typically either fully functional for an unlimited time, or has limited functionality, with a more capable version available commercially or as shareware. The software license may impose various additional restrictions like:
- Restriction on use e.g only for personal use, private use, individual use, non-profit use, non-commercial use, academic use, educational use, use in charity or humanitarian organizations, non-military use, use by public authorities, restricted use in a combination with some types of other software or with some hardware devices, etc.
- Prohibited distribution over the Internet other than linking to author's website, restricted distribution without author's consent, restricted number of copies, etc.
- The term free-software is used for the software that gives users the freedom to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, modify, and distribute the original software and the adapted versions.
- License grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that software.
Above difference is also given (shortly) in this answer.
From wikipedia template:
- Freeware falls in category - compensation model
- Free Software falls in category - license
Though, According to FSF :
The term “freeware” has no clear accepted definition, but it is commonly used for packages which permit redistribution but not modification (and their source code is not available).These packages are not free software, so please don't use “freeware” to refer to free software.
So, It is better to use gratis instead of freeware while talking about free of cost software.
They also provide translations of term "free software" into various languages with distinguishing it from "gratis".
This graphical information (from catagories) may also helpful:
There is no relation between Freeware and Free Software And the difference is only terminological because actually comparable/distinguishable thing is "Free software vs Proprietary Software" (and may be "Freeware vs Payware").
Because the terms can be, and are, so easily misunderstood most of us who have worked in this area avoid them and instead refer to specific licenses, which grant specific rights while reserving others. The Apache license, the partly or fully open versions of the Creative Commons family of licenses, and MIT's open-source license are among those which I've seen corporate lawyers approve of. The FSF/Gnu family has some versions (most notably the infamous "infectious" version, now mostly gone) which they wouldn't approve. And so on.
Whether it's called free, freeware, shareware, open-source, or Fred, read and understand the licence before downloading, and if you can't live by the rules set in that license find another program.
(The Free Software Foundation is certainly entitled to define what they mean when they use these terms... but there's no guarantee any other author/publisher agrees will use the terms exactly the same way. Read and understand and obey the licence. )