I saw some closed-source software (for Windows), which license explicitly allows to do everything with it, including disassembling, decompiling and modification, but no source is distributed, though no obfuscation has been applied. I wonder if it can be considered as free (as in freedom) software and if it can go into Ubuntu universe rather than multiverse.

  • 4
    It can be considered "free" insofar as the license terms stipulate. Feb 25, 2019 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


I think answer is No. By definition closed-source software goes to Multiverse.

I would handle this with care. How can you tell that software is not using third-party commercial libraries or patents?

  • I would have thought that whether something contains undisclosed (or outright stolen) copyright or patent material would be pretty hard to determine whether you have the source or not.
    – IMSoP
    Feb 26, 2019 at 0:16
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    Patents have no relationhip to free software. A patent is a monopoly granted to someone by governement on the territories controlled by that government, patent laws differ between jurisdictions and even free software can be patented. Fortunately most of jurisdictions don't have software patents, so patent issue often can be ignored: if users reside in a jurisdiction where software patents exist, it is often their personal problems and maybe they should either change their jurisdiction, or lobby software patents (and maybe patents in general) abolishment.
    Feb 26, 2019 at 5:49
  • >Software restricted by copyright or legal issues.
    Feb 26, 2019 at 5:54
  • is the definition of multiverse. According to this definition patent-encumbered software or software without a license definitely goes there. But in the case of that app the license explicitly allows to do everything (except suing the author) and has no patent notice. So even it is hard to check, if we assumme that the license is not lying, author is not violating copyright and the software is legal, I wonder if the software can be considered free only because of the license granting the 4 freedoms.
    Feb 26, 2019 at 6:03

What you describe is usually called freeware.

The FSF does not consider freeware to be free software, considering it to be proprietary software, and asks people not to call free software freeware.

So such a software package would not be permitted in the Ubuntu universe repository.

  • The license grants 4 freedoms, but no source code is available. Though FSF position is that access to the source code is a precondition for the freedom 1, there is a problem here: what is source code? Can disassembly listing or the source decompiled with retdec be considered source code?
    Feb 26, 2019 at 5:39
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    The GPL defines source code as "the preferred form of modification". I think this is a reasonable definition to apply in general. Source code is the form in which you would prefer to make modifications to the program. Feb 26, 2019 at 7:47
  • @KOLANICH: disassembly listing or decompilation isn't even anywhere close to being considered source code. Feb 26, 2019 at 17:02

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