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The free software community is an informal term referring to the users and developers of free software as well as supporters of the free software movement.[1] The free software community is sometimes also called the "open-source community"[2]. "The Linux community is a subset of the free software community.

History[edit | edit source]

Main article: History of free software

When the free software movement began in 1983, the community of users was mostly academics and computer programmers.

In the late 1990s, as free software became easier to use, many companies became users, distributors, and developers of free software.

Communication structure[edit | edit source]

Most communication is done over the Internet via mailing lists, wikis and forums, and some is done at conferences. This can also be seen in the widespread use of the collaborative software development model.

Well known websites which the free software community participate in are Slashdot, LWN, and Newsforge, although these are not exclusively used by the free software community.

Conferences include GUADEC, aKademy, FOSDEM, FISL, LinuxTag, and LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.

Recognisable characteristics[edit | edit source]

Some values which are nearly universal--as universal as values can be in a community of millions--are the preference for public discussion of technical matters, and opposition to software patents and parts of the DMCA. See software patents and free software.

Disagreements[edit | edit source]

Some arguments take on the fervor of "religious wars", such as the technical disputes from the 80s and early 90s over which text editor is better, Emacs or Vi/Vim, or even what version of a text editor is superior, GNU Emacs vs Xemacs.

Other conflicts exist over naming. These can occur because of differing opinions on historical accuracy, philosophical background or credit, such as the alternative terms for free software and the GNU/Linux naming controversy. And they can be caused by a conflict of business models and the use of trademarks, as is the case for the Naming conflict between Debian and Mozilla.

Companies entering the community[edit | edit source]

With the success of free software such as Linux, Apache HTTP Server, Mozilla Firefox, and OpenOffice.org, many companies have begun interacting with the free software community. Difficulties include the choice of free software licences, and the selection of what software will be released as free software.

An example of a relatively successful entry to the free software community is Sun Microsystems' release of Star Office as OpenOffice.org under the GNU Lesser General Public License.Template:Fact This was warmly received by the community since the free software community did not have a mature office suite at the time, so this was a welcome contribution. Using the community's preferred licence was also welcome because this allowed source code to be shared with other projects.

An example of a more difficult entry to the free software community is that of Real Networks. Real Networks wrote their own licence, and released only parts of their software suite. Most notably, the codec—the software needed to view Real Video files—was not released.

See also[edit | edit source]

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References[edit | edit source]

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External links[edit | edit source]

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fr:Communauté du logiciel libre

  1. Some examples showing that, and how, "free software community" is used:
  2. Example of the FS and OS terms being interchangeable:
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