Gratis versus Libre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

(Redirected from Libre)
Jump to: navigation, search

Gratis versus Libre is the distinction between no cost and freedom, a distinction not made by the word free in the English language.

This distinction is of utmost importance in dealing with information as property. Gratis is borrowed from latin, and libre is borrowed from French.


Gratis is an adjective in Latin and various Romance and Germanic languages meaning free, in the sense that one does not have to pay for some good or service (free of charge).

Free as in beer

In hacker slang, another common term for gratis is free as in beer. Free as in beer refers to things which are available at no monetary cost (like free beer at a party). It can be contrasted with the expressions free as in speech, free as in freedom, or free as in rights, which refer to something which is free of restrictions, as in the freedom of speech.

Since the advent of the free software movement, these terms have entered frequent use for categorising computer programs according to the licenses and legal fetters that cover them, and both this expression and the term gratis are used to distinguish freeware (gratis software) from free software.


Libre is a word in various Romance languages, e.g. Spanish and French (but not Latin itself, where the spelling is līber) that denotes the state of being free, as in "having freedom". GNU programmers often talk about free speech (libre) and free as in beer, as the word free in English does not distinguish between these meanings. Free software usually means the former.

Wikipedia, for example, is "The Free Encyclopedia" not only because users need not pay money, but because of the way it is edited and distributed.

This example has recently been complicated by the introduction of a Danish university project Vores Øl, a beer with a recipe that is "free as in freedom." Since the beer can be sold it is not necessarily "free as in beer."

See also

External links and references

Personal tools