Welcome to "What's the FOSS?"

This is a student-made site to help other students understand what Free and Open-Source Software is all about. To navigate, look for buttons like these:

Or, scroll back up and click along the bottom of the header image. Explore as you like, load up on links and info, and feel free to leave some feedback here. :)

So, what is FOSS?

FOSS is Free and Open-Source Software. That's free as in "malaya," not always free as in "walang gastos." You know it's FOSS when you get these four basic freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the software however you want, for whatever you want to do with it.
  • The freedom to share or give copies of the software so that other people can benefit.
  • The freedom to study how the software works, and to change it to make it work better for you. This means that you should be allowed to have the software's source code.
  • If you improved the software that way, you should also have the freedom to share your improved version with others, so that they benefit, too. Again, this means you should be allowed access to the source code.

You might have noticed that the four freedoms don't say anything about not paying for software. Think of it as free as in "freedom," not free as in "free food!" People who create FOSS products
can charge fees for copies - so you can "sell" the free software you create.

BUT, nobody should have to pay for the four basic freedoms, and nobody should have to ask permission, either. Anyone you share with or sell to automatically gets the same four freedoms as you.

Check out Libreng Libre for some helpful software that's distributed completely free of charge.

Reference: GNU.Org

What if I don't make software?

Why would I care about FOSS?

Even if you aren't a programmer, there are thousands of FOSS products already available to everyday users like you. They're made by millions of software developers who often do this for fun. They like helping people solve problems that proprietary or closed-source software won't let you solve.

Through legal or technical restrictions (sometimes both), proprietary software is practically the opposite of FOSS: its creators may stop you from changing and sharing the software. And when people can't afford proprietary software, they might resort to illegal practices like hacking and piracy. The many people who support FOSS believe that we shouldn't have to resort to that to meet our computing needs.

Another reason you might be interested is this: familiarity with FOSS makes you adaptable. Your future employers might like you to be familiar with different computing environments to save time and money on training you to work with their equipment. And if they don't use FOSS? If you tell them how it can cut costs around the office, they should appreciate it. :)

What else is there to know about FOSS?

Plenty! Scroll back to the top to check out the other pages. Or, you can start with these suggestions:

  • The proposed Free and Open Source Act of 2007 and how it affects you.
  • The FOSS scene in the Philippines.
  • Some problems with FOSS.
  • Where to get help with a FOSS product.

Still have questions? Post them here.