There are two types of software licensing : “proprietary and free open source”. The former imposes restrictions conditions on running the software subject to the sole discretion of the software owner, often preventing users from access to the code, and thus the ability to modify it if needs arise. In contrast, the latter grants users the right to access, distribute, modify, and run the software code.

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) defines software as a type of software whose license gives users the freedom to run, share, study, and modify it. In other words, the term “free” here does not imply “free of charge” (i.e. gratis), but implies “freedom” in the four following essential aspects:

  1. Run: The ability to use the program for any purpose.
  2. Distribute: The ability to copy and distribute the program to other people.
  3. Study: The ability to study the flow of the program code and understand the technology behind it.
  4. Modify: The ability to update, change, and improve the software code.

In addition to offering freedom, FOSS is widely acknowledged as providing a superior security model over its proprietary counterpart, reduces vendor lock-in, boosts growth of local IT skills, increases software customization and localization, and leads to fast adoption of new technologies due to its low installation and running cost.