[ADMB Users] Meaning of free software
arnima at hafro.is
Thu Mar 18 16:52:36 PDT 2010
On Thu, 18 Mar 2010, Saang-Yoon wrote:
> Thank you for your response. Is GCC compiler also free?
Yes, GCC is _more_ free than the Borland compiler. As I see it, software
comes in four "degrees of freedom":
1. Commercial software. You need to pay money to use the program, or
commit a crime and steal it.
2. Shareware. Time- and/or feature-limited version of a commercial
3. Freeware. Not time- and/or feature-limited, but does not allow the user
to have the source code, modify it, or give other people copies of the
original or modified program. If the original author decides to make the
program commercial tomorrow, then it will no longer be available for free
4. Free software. Allows the user to have the source code, modify it, and
give other people copies of the original and modified program. If the
original author decides to make the program commercial tomorrow, today's
copy of the source code will still be available for free. This would
probably result in a group of enthusiasts continuing to maintain and
develop the program as free software under a different name.
Together, groups 1-3 are called proprietary software, which is the
opposite of free software. GCC and ADMB are free software. The Borland C++
5.5 compiler is somewhere between shareware (does not provide the full
features of the Borland C++ Builder) and freeware (fully functional
ADMB has traversed the whole ladder. For many years it was commercial
software and shareware, during 2009 it was freeware, and on 31 Dec 2009 it
became free software when the full source code was made available.
GCC has been free software since its first release in 1987, and is the
cornerstone of later free software projects, such as Linux (1994), R
(2000), Mozilla (2002), and OpenOffice (2002), where years indicate
I have nothing against high-quality proprietary software from companies
like Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and Oracle that I use all the time. But free
software is a cooperative and creative approach that enables programs to
interact in ways no single person or development team could have imagined.
The approach lends itself particularly well to scientific work, and
watching R become gradually better than S-Plus has been a convincing
demonstration that free software is good for science.
Since many of the ADMB core developers work on Linux, testing and
development tends to focus on the GCC compiler first.
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