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Free Software Directory

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Title: Free Software Directory  
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Subject: Free Software Foundation, UNESCO, Free software, Free software/Expansion required, Free software/''Needy stubs''
Collection: Free Software Foundation, Mediawiki Websites, Semantic Wikis, Unesco
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Free Software Directory

The Free Software Directory (FSD) is a project of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). It catalogs free software that runs under free operating systems - particularly GNU and Linux. The cataloged projects are often able to run in several other operating systems. The project was formerly co-run by UNESCO.

Unlike some other directories that focus on free software,[1] Free Software Directory staff verify the licenses of software listed in the directory.


  • Coverage growth and usages 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Coverage growth and usages

FSD has been used as a source for assessing the share of free software, for example finding in September 2002 an amount of "1550 entries, of which 1363 (87.9%) used the GPL license, 103 (6.6%) used the LGPL license, 32 (2.0%) used a BSD or BSD-like license, 29 (1.9%) used the Artistic license, 5 (0.3%) used the MIT license".[2] By September 2009, the Directory listed 6,000 packages whose number grew up to 6,500 in October 2011, when the newly updated directory was launched. All listed packages are "free for any computer user to download, run and share. Each entry is individually checked and tested [...] so users know that any program they come across in the directory will be truly free software [...] with free documentation and without proprietary software requirements".[3]

Several scientific publications review or refer to the directory.[4][5][6] It has been remarked that the Directory "only includes software that runs on free operating systems. The FSF/UNESCO Free Software Directory is also a collaborative project, offering a web interface for users to enter and update entries".[7] Among the critical issues of the previous version, it has been pointed out that while "available software is described using a variety of textual metadata, including the components upon which a particular piece of software depends", "unfortunately, those dependencies are only listed by name, and locating and retrieving them is left to the user".[8] On the other hand, the accuracy of the directory review on licenses is acknowledged.[9] The code review from the directory's editorial board is suitable for obtaining statistics on subsets of free software packages reliably clustered by license.[10][11]

In September 2011, the Free Software Directory was re-implemented as a wiki, using MediaWiki and the Semantic MediaWiki extension, to allow users to directly add to and modify its contents.[12] Semantic MediaWiki provides the directory with semantic web technologies by adding "advanced search and presentation capabilities, structured to be useful for reading by both humans and data-mining programs".[13]

The new edition of the directory has been described as designed to ease and support with semantics the discovery and harvesting of information on free software programs. "An extensive and flexible category system, plus over 40,000 keywords and more than 40 different fields of information, enhance both simple and advanced searching".[13]

A recent snapshot of the taxonomy of the projects reviewed and accepted in the directory is the following:[14]

  • Audio
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Chat
  • Database
  • Documentation tool
  • Editor
  • Education
  • Email software
  • Game
  • Geography
  • Graphics
  • Hobbies
  • HTML Editor
  • Interface
  • Internet application
  • Live communications
  • Localization
  • Library
  • Mathematics
  • Network hookup
  • Printing
  • Program build automation
  • Programming language
  • Protocol
  • Science
  • Security
  • Software development
  • System administration
  • Text creation
  • Use
  • Version control
  • Video
  • Web authoring
  • Works with
  • Works with format

See also


  1. ^ Among public directories that focus on free software, for example, Kim, E. E. (2003). An Introduction to Open Source Communities mentions Freshmeat:
    There are three major databases of open source software available on the Internet today: the GNU Free Software Directory (, Freshmeat (
  2. ^ Wheeler D. A. (2011). Make Your Open Source Software GPL-Compatible. Or Else.. Released 2002-05-06, revised 2011-04-26. The article remarked that:
    The FSF prefers the GPL license, so the FSF directory statistic may be biased in the percentage of GPLed software it registers, but the directory still provides strong additional evidence that the GPL is a widely used license for FLOSS.
  3. ^ Noyes, K. (2011), "Looking for Free Software? A New Directory Can Help", PCWorld 
  4. ^ Reichle, M.; Hanft, A. (2006). "Strategies and Technologies of Sharing in Contributor-Run Archives". Library Trends. 53 (4): 651–662. 
  5. ^ Dorn, J.; Hochmeister, M. (2009), "TechScreen: Mining Competencies in Social Software", The 13th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, Orlando, pp. 115–126 
  6. ^ Amatriain, X.; Griffiths, D. (2004), "Free Software in Education: Is it a Viable Alternative?", Proceedings of the 7th IMAC Conference on Localization and Globalization in Technology, Duisburg, Germany 
  7. ^ Jones, P. (2005). "The FLOSSWALD Information System on Free and Open Source Software". Proceedings of the 9th International Workshop on Learning Software Organizations. 
  8. ^ van der Hoek, A.; Wolf, A. L. (2002). "Software release management for component-based software". Software — Practice and Experience 33 (1): 77–98.  
  9. ^ Wheeler, D. A. (2011). "How to Evaluate Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS) Programs". The Free Software Foundation's "Free Software Directory" is somewhat smaller, but they work hard to make sure their information is accurate (in particular, they check licenses carefully). 
  10. ^ See the query interface on license-type: .
  11. ^ Monden, A.; Okahara, S.; Manabe, Y.; Matsumoto, K. (2011). "Guilty or Not Guilty: Using Clone Metrics to Determine Open Source Licensing Violations". IEEE Software 28 (2): 42–47.  . Free access version:
  12. ^ Free Software Foundation re-launches its Free Software Directory, with over 6500 programs listed (press release), Josh Gay, September 29, 2011
  13. ^ a b The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Re-launches Free Software Directory, TECK.IN, October 3rd, 2011.
  14. ^ Last visited: 2011 October 27.

External links

  • The Free Software Directory
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