Charity for Free and Open Source Software

Free, Open Source Software and Charity

 · 3 min read

What is Free Software?

As per the National Resource Center for Free and Open Source Software:

"FOSS stands for 'Free and Open Source Software'. FOSS allows an individual the freedom and right to use software licensed under an open source agreement. The individual may use the software as it is or may make changes as needed."

Definition by GNU

"A program is free software if the program's users have the four essential freedoms:

  1. The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  2. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  4. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this."

Examples of Tools based on Free and Open Source Software

Most of the operating systems in servers and mobile phones across the world are based on Free and Open Source Software. Most web browsers, like Mozilla and Chrome are based on open source, along with database systems like MySQL and Postgres. These software tools have created a large amount of wealth for users who cannot afford paid software and are a key driver of the low cost of mobile phones.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of tools based on Free and Open Source Software:

  1. Linux Operating System
  2. Android
  3. Mozilla Firefox
  4. Google Chrome
  5. MacOS and iOS (based on BSD)
  6. MySQL
  7. Python
  8. Libre Office

What is ERPNext?

With digitalization ERPs have become essential tools for businesses. They help in,

  1. Increase Data accuracy
  2. Increase Transparency
  3. Provide businesses clarity on what they owe to stakeholders like customers, suppliers, employees, government, public, etc.

Most of the ERP software products are priced high and are under proprietary licenses.

Small and medium businesses cannot afford these software. 

ERPNext is truly Free and Open Source ERP. It is a web application and can be downloaded and hosted on any Linux server for free. The source is available and anyone can study, share, modify its source code.

Why need of charitable organization?

Many people who use free software want to donate to ensure that the software is maintained and enhanced and also protected against security threats. Hence a charitable organization is the right entity for users to pool their resources to ensure this happens. There are many examples of such charitable organizations like Mozilla Foundation, Linux Foundation etc that are run by donations and memberships to help maintain these software tools.

The software adopted by businesses to keep their data needs to have credibility and guaranteed future. It takes time, money, skills, experience and resources to develop such kind of software. Only businesses who can afford to utilize these resources can develop software.

An organization with purpose to fund and utilize required resources to develop software needs to be established for sustainable delivery of free software.

How non profit funds the software and helps community in general?

  1. Employ required resources and pay them for their time and effort.
  2. Organize training events to improve skills
  3. Country specific software requirements are to be funded on priority to make software useful for small businesses. e.g. GST Readiness for India led to opportunity of Readiness for GCC VAT.
  4. Encourage and provide technical guidance to contributors
  5. Interact with community through events and online forums
  6. Conduct meetings and conferences to encourage participation
  7. Businesses prefer to voluntarily pool funds to develop essential features through non profit to keep them free for everyone

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