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What is Software Freedom Day?

Software Freedom Day (SFD) is an annual and international celebration of free software. It is typically celebrated on September 19th.

Who started Software Freedom Day?

Software Freedom Day began when the Digital Freedom Foundation first launched the holiday as a public education initiative in 2004. Software Freedom Day aims to increase awareness around the availability of free software, its benefits and its applications.

What is meant by “Software Freedom”?

Software Freedom refers to:

  1. The free use of software programs for any purposes that individuals desire (as opposed to paid access, as only available through a corporation)
  2. The freedom to study how programs function
  3. The freedom to change programming functionalities
  4. The freedom to distribute copies of software so that others in your social network can benefit from its use
  5. The freedom to tap into the source code of the software

Why is Software Freedom Day useful?

Software Freedom Day highlights how software can allow for collaboration on and co-creation of new solutions to old problems. It reminds inventors in the DIY and maker communities that open source software is an available and accessible resource that can help solve cultural or social issues. The community development of new technologies can help groups overcome political oppression, financial barriers and communication challenges. In addition, open-source software can be used to build businesses and livelihoods.[1]

Is all open source software free?

The vast majority of open source software is free, however in some cases, licensing restrictions apply. Licenses can prevent people from modifying the software itself in order to build new projects.

On Software Freedom Day, should your organization consider the expanded use of open source software?

Roughly 90% of the internet is powered by open source code.[2] It is the dominant form of software and is often perceived as a game changer.

The use of open source software can allow for fast trouble-shooting should any issues arise, as the open source community is vast and energized. No need to call customer service and to wait on hold for an hour.

The use of open source code also allows for full visibility into the code base. You’re also protected against vendor lock-in risks.

Furthermore, on account of the fact that open source is supported by a worldwide community, the code itself tends to be better than your average code sold by major industry groups.

On many levels, open source code can meet a given organization’s needs. However, deciding on whether or not to use open source code is a sizeable decision and it should be made in consultation with your CIO, CTO, CISO and other organizational stakeholders.

[1] How open-source software took over the world, Tech Crunch, Mike Volpi, 12 January 2019

[2] 10 Advantages of Open Source for the Enterprise, Opensource.com, Ben Bromhead, 17 August 2017