Issue III

III cover 05

Libre Software as A Field of Study

Volume: 2005, No.III

Date: June 2005

Guest Editors: Jesús M. González-Barahona and Stefan Koch

Contents: Download full issue (PDF 1.7MB)

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Libre Software as A Field of Study

The term "Libre Software" is used in this introduction and in the title of this special issue to refer to both "free software" (according to the Free Software Foundation, FSF, definition) and "open source software" (as defined by the Open Source Initiative, OSI). "Libre" is a term well understood in romance languages (i.e. from Latin origin), such as Spanish, French, Catalan, Portuguese and Italian, and understandable in many others. It avoids the ambiguity of "free" in English, since "libre" means only "free as in free speech", and the term is used in Europe in particular, although its first use can be traced to the United States.

Libre software is distributed under a license that complies with the "four freedoms", as stated by Richard Stallman in "The Free Software Definition":

  • The freedom to run the program for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to improve the program and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Therefore, libre software is defined by what users can do when they receive a copy of the software, and not by how that software was developed, nor by whom, nor with what intentions.

However, although there is nothing in the definition about how the software has to be produced or marketed to become "libre", the four freedoms enable some development and business models while making others difficult or impossible. This is why we often talk about "libre software development models" or "libre software business models". Both terms are not to be understood as "models to be followed to qualify as libre software", but simply as models which are possible, perhaps common, in the world of libre software.

The UPgrade European NETwork section of this issue includes papers covering topics such as informatics law and evolutionary computation. The former topic is included in a paper by the Cyprus Computer Society publication, Pliroforiki, the latter from the publication Mondo Digitale which is published by the Italian Computer Society, AICA.


The following papers are included in this issue:

  • CALIBRE at The Crest of European Open Source Software Wave by Andrea Deverell and Par Agerfalk
  • Libre Software Movement: The Next Evolution of The IT Production Organization? by Nicolas Jullien
  • Measuring Libre Software Using Debian 3.1 (Sarge) as A Case Study: Preliminary Results by Juan-José Amor-Iglesias, Jesús M. González-Barahona, Gregorio Robles-Martínez and Israel Herráiz-Tabernero
  • An Institutional Analysis Approach to Studying Libre Software ‘Commons’ by Charles M. Schweik
  • About Closed-door Free/Libre/Open Source (FLOSS) Projects: Lessons from the Mozilla Firefox Developer Recruitment Approach by Sandeep Krishnamurthy
  • Agility and Libre Software Development by Alberto Sillitti and Giancarlo Succi
  • The Challenges of Using Open Source Software as A Reuse Strategy by Christian Neumann and Christoph Breidert