Shareware, Freeware, Open Source: Definitions, explanations, and some programs!

Why are there a billion free PC programs out there but only ten thousand free Mac programs? Because a PC operating system is open source and Mac is proprietary. What the hell does that mean? Friends that’s a long conversation down intellectual property and capitalism lane, so let’s go there a little bit, and lets also look at the differences between shared software and some new programs I’m liking right now.

Intellectual Property

Remember how we live in an individualized society where we’re taught that we all have to Make It On Our Own and can accumulate wealth to be passed on to our heirs so they Don’t Have To Work As Hard As We Did  etc etc. It’s about back there where intellectual property starts — the idea that a product of your brain is yours alone to monetize and no one else can get in there. Fast forward to fifteen years ago when the digital revolution made it possible to very easily copy things: documents, pictures…music files, computer programs, are you getting where we’re going?

The fact that we can make copies of things is a radical change in the way these assets are distributed, and has brought up a lot of ideas about how to preserve the monetization of these assets, and even more radically, how to make things that are intended to be copied without monetization. Copyright law is ever too complicated to go into here, so lets go to the entrance of copyleft and Creative Commons, and new laws extending copyright from 50 to 75 years+ and now it’s hard to download Adobe without paying.

BUT — some people like that their computer programs and art can be shared with other folks, tested and improved, and so we’ve got a whole world of software that is easily available…

Shareware vs Freeware vs Software

What the hell is going on here? The folks at have a great tech glossary, and break it down like this:

Freeware: Software distributed at no or neglible cost.

Shareware: Software you can use without paying for upfront. If you regularly use the software or want all the features you pay for it. Not necessarily open source. Not the same as freeware.

Open source software (OSS): Any computer program with accessible source code.

Mac Software That’s Not Audio-Related: Interesting/New/Useful Programs

It seems like every shareware out there is designed to somehow cut tracks out of youtube videos or pull audio off your windows-based cameraphone. Well, none of these do that. These are programs that connect via text and use new technologies for digital distribution. You can see my other posts if you’re interested in web programs or print design programs.

I find decent programs for my Mac on this shareware site.

RapidSMS is a free and open-source framework for dynamic data collection, logistics coordination and communication, leveraging basic short message service (SMS) mobile phone technology.

Flipbooks – freeware/open source
Mac –

CMS for images/portfolios
you might want to try Stacey, it’s a SUPER simple, you structure your site as a bunch of text files, images, etc in folders and it’s there. [Note: You need to have PHP5 on your server, but if you get a error message that you don’t, you can usually email/call your host and have them walk you through updating your PHP version. Don’t let the jargon stress you out here.]

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