Concepts and types of softwares and applications principally varied. They present multiple ideas and support many technologies. Users becoming confused between those softwares, they don’t know what to select and which application will support their needs. The idea of open source and free software is causing a huge confusion for IT people. In this article, a simple clearance of the differences will be explained.

Open source

A simple definition of open source is software with source code, which allows programmers to freely change in the codes according to their needs. And they can use it for their own purposes. On the other hand they can distribute it to others to share knowledge.

For deeper understanding of what open source is, you need to know that open source programs featured with the following freedoms:

  • Freedom to run the program, for any purpose
  • Freedom to change in the program codes to reach your needs
  • Freedom to make copies and distribute to others
  • Freedom to restructure the software and release it to the public. (Chisnall, 2007)

Open source software is always available with zero price, which is reflecting the reality of source code availability. Open source initiative developed the open source definition with ten principles for a software to be considered as open source software, as following:

  1. Free redistribution – the license must not restrict any user from selling or giving away the software.
  2. Source code – the software code must be available with compiled form
  3. Derived works – modifications and distributions must be allowed in the license the same as the original software
  4. Integrity of the author’s source code – The license might restrict source code distribution in modified form only if the license allow the distribution of patch files with the source code to allow modifying the program at the build time.
  5. No discrimination against persons or groups – The license must not discriminate against persons or groups
  6. No discrimination against fields of endeavor – The license must not discriminate anybody from making use of the program in specific field
  7. Distribution of license – The program rights must apply to whom the program is redistributed without the need to execute another license.
  8. License must not be specific to a product – The rights of the program must not depend on the program’s being a part of specific software distribution
  9. License must not restrict other software – The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software
  10. License must be technology-neutral – No provision of the license maybe predicated on any individual technology or style. (Drake, 2017)

Differences between free and open source

The major difference between free open source and free software is their approach. Open source is providing a source code for others to use, while the free software does not come with open code. It allows you to use the program without paying money, but you can’t use the source code.

The basic idea of the open source is that the availability of the code makes better product with more features and becomes superior. But the free software approach believes that a program that provides the user with the four freedoms is not superior and will not be unique from other developed programs at the same basic source code. (Chisnall, 2007)

Free software programmers restrict their intellectual property rights to the software and provide the software on a “take it as it is” basis, in contrast to open source, which has far less licensing terms limitations and allows users to modify the product if they so desire. (Golden, 2004)

Open source for successful business

For many programmers, the importance of Open Source software can be noticed in business field.  A programmer can make a lot of money through developing free software. But programmer must be clever enough to find an income producing method that works well with customers.

But keep in mind, competition among Open Source developers may be even severer than among profitable ones. This competition can only result in producing better software, which will ultimately be the real benefit of Open Source. If you decided to join the Open Source movement, be ready to take advantage of offers that may come from surprising sources. Just keep an open mind and the opportunities will come. (Swan, 2001)


In conclusion, the two softwares are varied with their main approach. Free Software programmers believe that freedom links to specific value, but Open Source programmers believe that freedom leads to achieve superior value. However, both agree that software freedom is very important, but with different methods.

Related Information

About the Author

Manar Hilal Al-Shaqsi, Ministry of Health, Network and Infrastructure Department, Email,


Chisnall, D. (2007, March 16). Free Software Versus Open Source. Retrieved from

Drake, M. (2017, October 30). The Differences between Free and Open source Software. Retrieved from

Golden, B. (2004, December 23). The Source of Open Source. Retrieved from

Swan, T. (2001, April 1). Open Source for Open Minds. Retrieved from