01/07/2017
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Understand free and open source software

fc0c32af-634d-47b3-a85d-87e9b0905119

There are FLOSS software solutions for any writing task you're trying to accomplish, and we recommend some of the best in the August issue of Writing Magazine, but what do those terms mean exactly?

What is FLOSS?

Proprietary software comes with long and almost unreadable licences that you must agree to before using the application. Licensing means you never own the software you just have permission to use it subject to all sorts of caveats. Crucially you can’t copy it, sell it, give it away or fiddle with it to improve it.
Free (Libre) Open Source Software (FLOSS) is different. There are various licences but the main point is that you are free to do what you want with it. You can install on as many machines as you like, copy it, give it away, even sell it – though you might struggle with that when other people are giving it away.
‘Free Software’, ‘FOSS’, ‘FLOSS’ and ‘Open Source’ all mean pretty much the same. (There are important differences of interest to free software aficionados, but there’s no room, or need, to debate them here.) Freeware is different.

Avoid most FREEWARE

Freeware is simply software that is given away. Some of it is good, produced by decent honourable people and comes with a few adverts to pay for the work they put in. Most smartphone apps are freeware and there is quite a lot for PCs too. Some freeware is less desirable; it is often old, full of bugs and can be used as a trojan horse to insinuate ‘malware’ into your computer. Unless you know the source is trustworthy, avoid it like the plague.

FLOSS economics

I like being paid for my work, and software developers are no different, so how does FLOSS work?
Some developers are students aiming to build a reputation in the industry and further their career but most work for companies, research labs, government departments or universities. Their employers uses FLOSS and employ them to improve it, extend it or even totally replace it to benefit the employer’s business. But it’s a requirement of most FLOSS licences that anyone producing a modified version or releasing a new application with some Open Source code in it has to free their work too. So everyone wins.

See our FLOSS recommendations in the August issue of Writing Magazine

Back to "The Internet and writing for the web" Category

01/07/2017 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Coffee break exercise: Nursery rhyme

This week's creative writing exercise is about reworking childhood classics to create a new piece of work ...


How Melanie Blake wrote this summer's runaway blockbuster

Do you love Jackie Collins’ novels and Valley of the Dolls? Music manager turned author Melanie Blake’s debut ...


Coffee break exercise: Something strange

Create new work out of an inexplicable happening in this week's creative writing exercise ...


Read more, write better! Writing Magazine bonus content, August 2019

Background reading, exclusive audio extracts and more to complement your latest Writing Magazine ...


Other Articles

Under the Microscope extra: Open

Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's novel opening ...


The effect of a metaphor on your readers

Metaphor is a powerful tool for writers and poets but what effect does it have on your readers? ...


Coffee break exercise: Heat

With the temperature set to soar this weekend, let’s warm things up in this week’s creative writing exercise ...


Quotes about writing that will definitely inspire you

Read 100 of the best writing quotes to inspire you to get writing now ...