Who doesn’t love free software? Still, you might be unaware that “free” doesn’t always mean free in the sense you might expect.
There are important distinctions between what we call “freeware” and what is known as “free software”, “free and open source software” or “free, libre and open source software”.
The main difference is in the definition of the word “free”, which has multiple meanings. Freeware is provided at no cost - so it is free in that sense – but are you free to do anything you like with it? Can you re-distribute it without the developer’s permission? The answer is usually no.
However, this isn’t always the case. Some free software is free as in “freedom”, meaning not only that it (probably) costs nothing but, more crucially, that you’re free to do whatever you like with it. You can re-distribute it however you like, or even tap into the code and change it to suit your needs. Yes, developers of such software make the source code freely available to any and all to do with as they like. This is what the term “open source” is all about.
More importantly, some free software doesn’t involve restrictive end user license agreements. As free software advocates like to point out, we’re talking about free as in “free speech” not just free as in “free beer”.
Over the next few slides we’ve rounded up 12 excellent free and open source applications worth investigating and experimenting with.
For loads more on the different varieties of free and open source music applications, and how to use them, pick up the October issue of Computer Music (CM 195), which is on sale now.