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Book: Introduction to Free Software

Introduction to Free Software

  • Authors: Jesús M. González-Barahona, Joaquín Seoane Pascual, Gregorio Robles
  • Coordinators: Jordi Mas Hernández, David Megías Jiménez
  • Licenses: GNU Free Documentation License, Creative Commons Attribute ShareAlike License
  • Information: 291 Pages; 3.2Mb
Free software is increasing its presence in mainstream media and in debates among IT professionals, but it is still unknown for many people. And even those who are familiar with it lack specific knowledge in some important areas.

What is free software? What are the implications of using a free license? How are free software projects organised? Which are the main business models associated to them? What motivates developers, especially volunteers, to become involved in free software projects? Who are these developers? These are the sort of questions that we will try to answer in this book.

Book cover

Evolution of this book

The FTA has reused existing course materials from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and that had been developed together with LibreSoft staff from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. In 2008 this book was translated into English with the help of the SELF (Science, Education and Learning in Freedom) Project, supported by the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme. In 2009, this material has been improved by the Free Technology Academy. Additionally the FTA has developed a study guide and learning activities which are available for learners enrolled in the FTA Campus.


This material can be found in the following languages:

Note that the materials in different languages might have minor differences between the different version.

Feedback and comments

Keeping course books up-to-date and improving them can be a time-consuming effort. Users of FTA learning materials are encouraged to provide feedback and make suggestions for improvement. We are currently testing the "annotation tool" which allows you to highlight any part of the PDF document and add your comments. You can register freely and then get to annotate the course book. Your comments and contributions are more than welcome. These inputs will be taken into account for next versions.

Moreover, the FTA welcomes anyone to use and distribute this material as well as to make new versions and translations.