Software that is free is that which, by definition, has its full source code published.

I thought about definitionally, but after looking it up, it doesn't seem to be right.

  • 2
    That's quite a clumsy sentence all round. Why not just say, “Free software is defined as software whose full code is published”? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 18 '13 at 15:51
  • It was constructed around the purpose of exemplifying my question. – user3025492 Dec 19 '13 at 2:38

Using defined as a verb provides a simple answer to the grammatical issue the question raises. However, the original statement and the suggested revisions of it are untrue. It is not the case that free software is defined as software whose full code is published. Although that is an intrinsic property of free software, it also is a property of freeware. In addition, some proprietary software is distributed as published source code, under restrictions like copyrights and non-disclosure agreements. Refer to wikipedia's article about Free Software for a better definition (eg, “Free software is computer software that is distributed along with its source code, and is released under terms that guarantee users the freedom to study, adapt/modify, and distribute the software”) and for further distinguishing characteristics.

To connect “Free Software” and “published source code” with by definition, is defined as, or definitionally is wrong. Instead say that having published code is an intrinsic, innate, or inherent property of Free Software.

  • You’ll notice my rewrite fixed that. – tchrist Dec 18 '13 at 22:40
  • @tchrist, you probably are correct, and my claim that “suggested revisions of it are untrue” could well be too broad. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Dec 18 '13 at 23:00
  • @jwpat7 Point taken. What I meant to express was that the former set can be defined as a perfect subset of the latter one. Is there any word that expresses such meaning succinctly? – user3025492 Dec 19 '13 at 3:21
  • @user3025492, (a) I don't see the relevance of “a perfect subset”(1,2). Do you mean “a proper subset”? (b) Perhaps necessarily or of necessity are words like you want; eg: “Of necessity, full source code is publicly available for open source software”. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Dec 19 '13 at 5:58
  • @jwpat7 I think you missed the overall point of my question. – user3025492 Dec 19 '13 at 8:32

Just use define as a verb.

Software which is free is defined as having its full source code published without encumbrance or fees.

  • The OP example might be better written using defined. Is there any equally-concise replacement of "by definition" in cases where one is using that fact that all foozles are defined to be woozles, and a particular thing is not a woozle, to show that, "by definition", the thing cannot be a foozle? – supercat Dec 18 '13 at 22:29
  • NOpe. That wouldn't work, because that isn't the purpose of the sentence I have in mind... I mean, I don't think that this would work in a comma-delimited tangential clause. I guess I'm looking for something analogous to inherently. Do you see what I'm saying? – user3025492 Dec 19 '13 at 2:41
  • Free software, as such, necessarily has its full source code published.
  • Software is free only if its full source code is published.

These two sentences are not equivalent:

By definition, free software has its full source code published.

Free software is defined as software that has its full source code published.

The first one states a property of free software, which can be read directly from the definition, but there may be more to it. The second is saying what the definition is, and therefore would need to include the entire definition in order to be correct.

So, given the definition of free software from the referenced wikipedia article, one could say:

By definition, free software provides the freedom to run the software for any purpose.

but, not

Free software is defined as software one may run for any purpose.

because there is software that may be run for any purpose which is not technically free software.

So, assuming you rearrange the sentence a bit, there are some words you could use instead of the phrase 'by definition', such as 'always', 'obviously', 'clearly', 'inherently' and so on, but I don't know of any that also communicate the key piece of information that 'by definition' expresses. Namely, that you can glean this information directly from the definition without additional reasoning.

  • 1
    By definition, free software has its full source code published . [necessary condition] // Free software is defined as software that has its full source code published . [definition] You might like this example from CDofAI: 'Circus performers are, by definition, delightful show-offs and risk takers.' – Edwin Ashworth Mar 27 '14 at 15:15

If something similar to definitionally is desired, one option is definitively.

  • Is its meaning analogous to inherently? – user3025492 Dec 19 '13 at 2:49
  • @user3025492 From dictionary.com: inherent: existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute; definitive: serving to define, fix, or specify definitely. – D Krueger Dec 19 '13 at 4:40

Here's a hyphenated word that I think is pretty powerful:

self-evident: adjective evident without proof or reasoning

To adapt it to your situation, perhaps:

Software whose full source code published is considered, self-evidently, "free software."

from m-w.com

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