Albert Camus wrote that “freedom is nothing more than an opportunity to be better”. And
that is exactly what free software seeks: to use freedom to improve. True, the French Nobel
Prize winner was not referring strictly to technological development, but he would certainly
have applauded the possibility offered by these solutions to intervene and optimize
technological products. We´ll talk about all this today on the iXiam blog.
What is free software?
Free software is always designed to be used, modified and distributed without any restrictions.
The contributions and collaborations of users who have knowledge and want to intervene in its
development are the key to a continuous improvement that is implicit in its raison
And from these singularities it is important to take into account that each of the new versions
developed can also be redistributed with the same faculties for those who want to access
them. That is to say, they will be at all times supported by the possibility of use, modification
and new distribution completely free.
In recent years, there have been more and more examples of free software, which facilitate
more democratic access and greater collaboration between specialists. Technological solutions
such as CRM, which facilitate customer relationship management, are based on these
collaborative systems, especially interesting for organizations that share their collaborative
values, such as those in the Third Sector. In this blog we talked about one of them, CiviCRM, its
features and uses.
Betting on free software is also, therefore, to understand technological advances as an open
space for learning, in which it is possible to share knowledge with others and achieve a
Main characteristics of free software
We owe the term free software to the American Richard Stallman, whose objective was to
establish a free operating system, in communion with other computer scientists. As many
users as wished could participate in it to improve it and develop it in a free and communal
way. His ideas were the starting point for a type of computer culture that was an alternative to
that of the large computer groups.
The characteristics of any free software are included in the “freedoms”; indicated by Stallman,
which all of them must have, and which also function as principles of action:
- Freedom to analyze how the program works and modify it according to each users
taste or needs.
- Total freedom to use it as you wish and for any purpose.
- Freedom to optimize the free software, generating improvements, solving possible
errors or proposing new developments that contribute to its progress.
- Freedom to freely distribute as many copies of the program as you wish so that others can also contribute with their innovations.
What are the advantages of using free software?
There is, therefore, an ethical dimension to the development of free software. Open
technology is committed to giving access to it to all types of people and entities. This is its
raison to be and from it there are numerous advantages:
- An economic option. It is a whole community that supports the development and
progress of the program. As there is no cost of licenses or maintenance, the expense is
- Increased security. Many eyes review and check that everything goes well in the
source code. This makes it more difficult for security breaches to go unidentified.
- Accessibility. This is one of the essential features. Any user can access it if they wish.
This also benefits innovation, since contributions will be more varied and ideas will
have a greater variety and dimension.
- Fewer errors and greater stability. By having so many people reviewing what goes on
in the guts of a free software, there is a constant review and faster resolution of
- It creates communities that share knowledge. Collaborative work is essential for the
improvement of technological systems and for a good number of people to have
access to them.
Free software, a great ally for the Third Sector
The link between Third Sector entities and free software solutions is becoming more and more
common. And it is not surprising, since the management needs of NGOs are supported by
technology, which until recently did not exist. These types of systems respond perfectly to
their interests and share an ethical component.
At iXiam we are well aware of this and that is why our work is focused on the use of open
source solutions for organizations whose main objective is the social good.
Having technological systems that are easy to use, cost-effective, have a community that offers
permanent support and provides the necessary features is nowadays a necessity for any NGO,
regardless of its size.
A magnificent example of the link between these organizations and free software is, as we
pointed out earlier, CiviCRM. Suffice it to say that this very complete CRM allows you to
manage fundraising, integrate all administrative functions or manage the relationship with
volunteers or donors, among other key actions.
The values that define free software are in line with those defended by the activities of the
Third Sector. The objective of both is clear: to improve society. What better way to do it than
from the opportunities provided by a technological solution based on the search for the