I was reading an article about Freesoftware adoption and it noted that the freedoms afforded by the GNU Gpl were written largely for developers not end users. End users being regular Janes and Joes milling about big box stores looking for bits and bytes to do something useful for them. So I figured I would take a shot at positing the four freedoms to general users. It’s a very rough attempt but hopefully something to think about.
First Benefit: The freedom to run the software as you would like to run it on as many computers as you would like to run it on. Want the run the software on your laptop and your workstation at the same time? Go ahead! Want to copy the software to each computer in a computer lab and then let any student run it when he or she wants to? You may!
Second Benefit: You can learn how the program operates and share this information with anyone. This is great if you want to learn how to write your own software. But even more, if you are the kind of person that likes to learn as much as they can about something, benefit 2 will aid you. Even more, because this benefit is available to everyone, you get to learn from their experiences too! You can take what you learn and publish it to the web, make a movie or even write a book! Sure you can do this with non-free software but there are no limits, no restrictions when it comes to freesoftware.
Third Benefit: You can share the software with your friends and family. School can give a copy of the software they use in the computer labs to each student so he or she can use the software at home. That way mom and dad can also use the same programs their children are using. They could even take the programs to work and let people in the office use them should their IT department allow this? Want to continue working on a project for work at home? If you are using free software at work there are no barriers to you using the same software at home!
Fourth Benefit: Freedom to change and improve the software. Maybe you are not a programmer, most people are not. Therefore you might think this benefit is not going to help you, but you could be wrong. Think about it. You find a piece of software that is almost a 100% fit for your company or a project you are working on. Almost! If only it had this one feature. Well, you can ask or even pay someone to add that feature for you. You nor they are restricted in making these changes! Another bonus of this is as you or others make changes those changes can be released to the rest of the world so everyone benefits. The more people doing this the better the software gets; the more features it can have! No barriers baby!