I'm looking for a name/adjective to refer a software resource that is both free to access and safe to use from a security point of view.

The term is going to name the group of such resources in an operating system.

As an example think of *nix files like /dev/null and /dev/zero

So far the best I've found are

  • commons
  • public

With "commons" I link these resources to the common lands, as they are owned collectively by a number of persons; indeed Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "common" as "belonging to or shared by two or more individuals or things or by all members of a group".

I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm not sure "commons" is appropriate, but "public" is usually opposed to "private" and in this scenario this is not what I want to express.

Is there another term I should use? Or is "commons" just right?

  • 4
    I'm almost certain you're expecting too much of a single word. But you need to add references (eg relevant dictionary definitions – or the lack thereof in specified dictionaries – of 'commons') to make your question appropriate for ELU. Dec 26, 2016 at 12:11
  • Commons and public refer to intellectual property rights, rather than software security issues.
    – Mick
    Dec 26, 2016 at 12:12
  • @EdwinAshworth I hope I addressed the issue with the edit. Dec 26, 2016 at 12:27
  • @Mick public in programming languages refers to something that is always available and visible; commons was used before intellectual property existed. As for software security the point is that this set of resources do not pose security risks to the host system. Dec 26, 2016 at 12:28
  • There is no such thing as "safe to use".
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 27, 2016 at 2:36

1 Answer 1


I would use unrestricted. From the Oxford American Dictionary:

Not limited in extent, number, scope, or action

This is not a perfect fit, as it mainly addresses the "free to use" part of your question, but being a *nix user myself, trust me, if it's a security risk, then it's restricted. ;)

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