Does your free music editing software need to be Freeware, Shareware or "Open Source"?

What is the difference between the three models of "free" software and which kind of free music editing software offers the most advantages for the user.


Originally freeware was defined as "software which can be downloaded, used, and copied without restrictions."

It is usually a very small program, released by a student or enthusiast.

The difference between freeware and open source is that you have no access to the source code. There is no usually no community and no development infrastructure around "freeware" as there is around open source software.

What does that mean to us?

Basically one thing: "No support".


Shareware is a different concept. You can download and try shareware for free, but if you use it, you are supposed to pay for it.

Shareware is usually a mid-sized utility or application, written by a professional developer or small software company. The developer or publisher does not have the resources to market it, so they release it as shareware with a "try-before-you-buy" business model.

In the end, the only difference between shareware and commercial software is that you can download and try shareware for free. Like commercial software, you are ultimately dependent on the developer of shareware for enhancements and support.

What does that tell us?

Well, the "Download Demo" of commercial software is basically the same.

Open Source

Open source means that the source code is available to all potential users, and they are free to use, modify, and re-distribute the source code. Legally, the "free" of open source refers exclusively to the source code, and it is possible to have support, services, documentation.

The largest "free" software out there are all open source like Linux, Apache, etc...

In practice, open source usually means that the application is free to users as well as developers. Furthermore, most open source software have communities that support each other and collaborate on development. Therefore, unlike freeware, there are future enhancements, and, unlike shareware, users are not dependent on a single organization.

Can we profit from that?

Yes, open source usually delivers the biggest and best "freeware" with support, a community and ongoing development.

Consequences for Music Software Users

If you need a easy to use, small application, that doesn't need any further development go for freeware.

If you need a full blown program that supports any standard and function under the sun and needs ongoing updates, go for open source, shareware or commercial programs. Don't waste your time with freeware.