In 2006, OpenBSD started the first campaign against the use of binary blobs in kernels. Blobs are usually freely distributable device drivers for hardware from vendors that do not reveal driver source code to users or developers. This restricts the users' freedom effectively to modify the software and distribute modified versions. Also, since the blobs are undocumented and may have bugs, they pose a security risk to any operating system whose kernel includes them. The proclaimed aim of the campaign against blobs is to collect hardware documentation that allows developers to write free software drivers for that hardware, ultimately enabling all free operating systems to become or remain blob-free.
The opposite of file recovery is utter destruction—the kind of thing you do to keep a file out of someone else's hands. Eraser does just that, writing over the spot where the file(s) lived until it's scrubbed clean, with no chance of coming back to haunt you. You can even use it to schedule a wipe of the free space on the disk, or just to purge your recycle bin. During setup you get the option to install an extension for Windows Explorer so you can wipe files or free space instantly.

Freedom 1 includes the freedom to use your changed version in place of the original. If the program is delivered in a product designed to run someone else's modified versions but refuse to run yours — a practice known as “tivoization” or “lockdown”, or (in its practitioners' perverse terminology) as “secure boot” — freedom 1 becomes an empty pretense rather than a practical reality. These binaries are not free software even if the source code they are compiled from is free.

For reference, see OSI FAQ : "How is 'open source' related to 'free software'? The Open Source Initiative is a marketing program for free software. It's a pitch for 'free software' on solid pragmatic grounds rather than ideological tub-thumping. The winning substance has not changed, the losing attitude and symbolism have." Outside this rather unkind FAQ item, the OSI and its supporters have generally avoided the term "Free Software".


If you want to use Microsoft Office on Windows and Mac desktops, it'll still cost you at least $69.99 a year for Office 365 Personal—and it's probably worth it for the power those programs wield. But it's not 100 percent necessary: the Web versions of Word, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint, Excel, Sway, and others all live for free at Office.com. You'll have to sign up for a Microsoft account to store files online using OneDrive (5GB are free). But there's no lack of free options if you can live without the full-test versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
LastPass is great, but LogMeOnce Password Management Suite Premium is good enough to earn its own 5-star rating. And don't let that word "premium" fool you, this software for logging in is free, albeit with some paid upgrades available for $1/month. LogMeOnce's claim to fame is to be utterly "passwordless." While you can go with a master password, the selling point is to use your smartphone (or tablet, whatever you always have with you) as an authenticator—primarily by using the fingerprint reader built into most modern smartphones (photo login is a paid feature). It's browser-based so it works the same on all desktop systems.
The first of a few Piriform programs on this list, CCleaner—the first C is for Crap!—is one of the best, and pretty much essential for keeping a system going. What it does is simple: it cleans up extraneous files to keep a system running better. Get it and run it, regularly. It'll even delete some apps you didn't think you could get rid of—like those provided in Windows 10, whether you wanted them or not.
If you want to use Microsoft Office on Windows and Mac desktops, it'll still cost you at least $69.99 a year for Office 365 Personal—and it's probably worth it for the power those programs wield. But it's not 100 percent necessary: the Web versions of Word, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint, Excel, Sway, and others all live for free at Office.com. You'll have to sign up for a Microsoft account to store files online using OneDrive (5GB are free). But there's no lack of free options if you can live without the full-test versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Do you use professional-quality software like Illustrator or InDesign? Here’s where you can get accurately dimensioned templates. All of your familiar functions will still be available, and you can place frames wherever you need them for text and images. You’ll also find the dimensions of a wide variety of label formats on A4 – the efficient way to make your own templates.
The obvious choice of Office tools if you are a firm believer in open source, LibreOffice was a fork from the original OpenOffice years ago (itself an offshoot of StarOffice). Inside are word processor, spreadsheet, and presentations programs, a vector graphics editor, a math formula editor, and a database. It's a little more awkward to use than the desktop version of Microsoft Office, but you can't beat the price. Grab the LibreOffice Viewer app for Android to look at files.
Finally, note that criteria such as those stated in this free software definition require careful thought for their interpretation. To decide whether a specific software license qualifies as a free software license, we judge it based on these criteria to determine whether it fits their spirit as well as the precise words. If a license includes unconscionable restrictions, we reject it, even if we did not anticipate the issue in these criteria. Sometimes a license requirement raises an issue that calls for extensive thought, including discussions with a lawyer, before we can decide if the requirement is acceptable. When we reach a conclusion about a new issue, we often update these criteria to make it easier to see why certain licenses do or don't qualify.

Google built Hangouts into its services as a replacement for the Google Talk messaging service, but Hangouts adds voice and video calls. It's unique for this roundup in that it doesn't require an installer, it just works in your browser (though getting the Chrome Extension is recommended). It's perfect for talking to other people on Google—you can get up to nine people in a video chat, all for free.
Evernote has one use: be your online repository for everything. Scan it, shoot it, type it, whatever, just put it in Evernote to find later. Most text, even in pictures, is OCRed (optical character recognition) so it's searchable later. Organize the notes into Notebooks, then access it anywhere. Despite some ups and downs in its business model, it remains our Editors' Choice for note-taking on multiple platforms—even if for free you can only use two devices (plus the Web interface).
Something to always watch for: crapware installers. To make ends meet, many creators of otherwise great free software, or the services that offer the programs for download, bundle in things you don't want. Worse, the installation routine obfuscates the steps, so you provide the unwanted program tacit permission to be installed. For more about how to spot and avoid this problem, see How to Clean Crapware From a New PC, and check out the Uninstaller section of this very free software collection.

Too often a business will invest solely in how-to type of content. If you are a social media software company, you may invest in how-to posts as new social media tools become available. These posts can be super helpful, and a business may end up ranking high on search engine result pages (SERPs) with a how-to piece of content. The problem is that there are hundreds of businesses writing the same posts, so the pool of competition is quite large. Secondly, these posts don't age well. Snapchat might update their context cards next week, which would mean marketing teams need to update their posts with new information and new screenshots.
Rules that “if you make your version available in this way, you must make it available in that way also” can be acceptable too, on the same condition. An example of such an acceptable rule is one saying that if you have distributed a modified version and a previous developer asks for a copy of it, you must send one. (Note that such a rule still leaves you the choice of whether to distribute your version at all.) Rules that require release of source code to the users for versions that you put into public use are also acceptable.

Copyrights are a method of protecting the rights of the creator of certain types of works. In most countries, software you write is automatically copyrighted. A license is the authors way of allowing use of their creation (software in this case), by others, in ways that are acceptable to them. It is up to the author to include a license which declares in what ways the software may be used. For a proper discussion of copyright see https://www.copyright.gov/.
What if there were a worldwide group of talented ethical programmers voluntarily committed to the idea of writing and sharing software with each other and with anyone else who agreed to share alike? What if anyone could be a part of and benefit from this community even without being a computer expert or knowing anything about programming? We wouldn’t have to worry about getting caught copying a useful program for our friends—because we wouldn’t be doing anything wrong.
Eric narrowly averted a career in food service when he began in tech publishing at Ziff-Davis over 25 years ago. He was on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine (all defunct, and it's not his fault). He's the author of two novels, BETA TEST ("an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale"--Publishers' Weekly) an... See Full Bio
The Opera browser has been keeping up with the big boys for years, and it does so now by incorporating features no other browser has, in particular a built-in VPN service to keep your browsing secure, as well as ad blockers, a turbo mode, and even a battery saver that lets your laptop run longer than other browsers accessing the same content. It also comes in multiple versions for mobile, including Opera Mini, which compresses pages before you even load them.

Speed development of system and IoT device applications, boost performance and power efficiency, and strengthen system reliability with this easy-to-use, comprehensive, cross-platform tool suite. Includes optimizing compilers, highly tuned libraries, analyzers, debug tools, and advanced cloud connectors, as well as provides access to over 400 sensors. Get started with a free 90-day renewable commercial license.
The right to study and modify a computer program entails that source code—the preferred format for making changes—be made available to users of that program. While this is often called 'access to source code' or 'public availability', the Free Software Foundation recommends against thinking in those terms,[10] because it might give the impression that users have an obligation (as opposed to a right) to give non-users a copy of the program.
Our favorite messaging service takes security seriously—it's Snowden-approved!—using its own open-source protocol to do end-to-end encryption, even on voice calls. It's not as much fun as some of the others, but still supports sending photos and video, plus group messaging. On Android, Signal can completely replace the SMS texting app; on iPhone you need to get other users to download Signal or you can't talk to them.
A free sample or "freebie" is a portion of food or other product (for example beauty products) given to consumers in shopping malls, supermarkets, retail stores, or through other channels (such as via the Internet).[1] Sometimes samples of non-perishable items are included in direct marketing mailings. The purpose of a free sample is to acquaint the consumer with a new product, and is similar to the concept of a test drive, in that a customer is able to try out a product before purchasing it.
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