Difference Between Free Software and Open Source Software


Main Difference

As a body without soul is dead so that a computer is useless without software. Software is the life of computer, which makes able to computer to run properly. Software are those hidden instructions and information, which are used by computer. Open source, Shareware, Adware, Spyware, Nagware, Malware, Scareware, Abandonware, etc. are kinds of software but here we will discuss about ‘Open Source Software’ and ‘Free Software’.

What is Free Software?

Free Software is that software against which developing companies demands no fee. It is widely open and free to public. For this reason, it is named as free software. It is often launched without any security or license code, which makes it free. It gives the users an option to run, store, modify or share it freely. By accessing the source code, you can also modify the free software. You can share it to other users without any restrictions.You can study the free software, how it is developed, how it works and can change their pattern according to your own computing requirement. If you feel any improvement in it, you can also improve it and can share its latest version to public. Many software as antiviruses, adobe reader, flash players, media players, typing tools, etc. are available free of cost on internet.


What is Open Source Software?

Open Source Software looks like free software but it is not same to free software. Some dissimilarities exists between them. Open Source Software is that software although is available to public free of cost along with source code but including a license or security code. It is developed through public cooperation. It also gives permission to users to use, modify, study or share them freely. Sometimes modifications are allowed by license and sometimes not. You can share it to other users specifying the changes you have made, under the original license agreement without any imposing any further restrictions. In short, it is also a free software but license and security code impose some parameters about modifications in source code. Linux, Debian OS, GIMP image software, MySQL, FreeBSD OS, MS Access, Mamboo, WordPress, etc. are some popular open source software.


Key Differences

  1. Source code liberty of open source software is greater than free software. In open source software any person can see, study and modify the source code.
  2. Open source software are easily customizable than free software due to permission of freely use of source code.
  3. The purpose of open source software is to maintain the security while free software gives just freedom to users. Misusing the open source software is not easy because the developer initially restricts it.
  4. Training lectures and tutorials in form of videos and pdf files are widely available for free software but there is no professional support for open source software.
  5. Free software latest version are available with the change in technology and requirement and one can changes the new version with existing version easily by simple updating its existing version. While open source software updates are not available regularly.
  6. Restrictions regarding modifying and sharing of free software are less than open source software. It is necessary for developer to include all changes made by him in source code and make available to other users.
  7. Open source software are reliable then free software. More ever, they do not contain any harmful object or virus. Most free software are full of bugs that can be harmful for your computer.
Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss