Should a company select proprietary, open source, or free software for its most important business information systems?
The Free Software Definition, Richard Stallman defines free software as a matter of liberty, not price.
Free software is the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, and modify the software. More accurately, it means that the users have the four essential freedoms:
• The freedom to run the program, for any purpose
• The freedom to learn how the program works, and change it to make it serve your own purpose. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
• The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others.
• The freedom to distribute copies of your upgraded versions to others. With this you can give the whole community an opportunity to benefit from your modification. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Users access to this freedom makes a program free software. Thus, you should be free to redistribute copies, either with or without upgrade, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means you need no permission to do anything or have to pay for anything.
The freedom to redistribute copies must include binary or executable forms of the program, as well as source code, for both upgraded and unmodified versions. It is OK if there is no way to produce a binary or executable form for a certain program, but you must have the freedom to redistribute such forms should you find or develop a way to make them.
“Free software” does not mean “noncommercial.” As quoted in an article, “A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important. You may have paid money to get copies of free software, or you may have obtained copies at no charge. But regardless of how...