In English, when describing software you say "open source" to refer to software that's source code has been made available under a license.

"Free software" refers to 'truly free' software that can be used and modified freely.

Normally, I would say "software libre", but that doesn't really seem to capture the full concept. How would a native speaker translate each of these terms while preserving the distinction?

4 Answers 4


It's pretty simple:

Open Source: "Código abierto"

Free Software: "Software libre/gratis"

There's no way to get confused.

  • fuente abierta as an (bad/good?) alternative to código abierto.
    – snoram
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 22:02
  • 1
    @snoram "Fuente abierta" doesn't work because "fuente" by it self is never used when speaking about source code. You'd say "código fuente" if you want to be clear about it, "código abierto" works because "abierto" (literally opened) implies accessibility.
    – celerno
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 12:35
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    Estoy en desacuerdo: Free software se traduce como Software libre, nunca como Software gratis. Nota que free tiene dos acepciones: "libre" y "gratis" siendo la primera la acepción correcta.
    – Ra_
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 14:10

According to Wikipedia it looks like the (or at least a) proper translation of open source is código abierto. I'm pretty sure I've also seen just the phrase open source used, without translation. Likewise, I've seen free software used without translation (in fact the Wikipedia page linked even does that).

At least in Spanish the distinction between free (gratis) software and free (libre) software isn't as confusing as in English!

  • 2
    +1 for that bit about gratis vs. libre.
    – CesarGon
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 0:51

It is known as (or translated as)

Software Libre


Software de código libre


The great rms (Richard Stallman) uses "el software libre" in his Spanish talks, though I can't remember how he references merely "open source". I suppose like many terms it should be OK to just say "open source". At least there's a difference between "software gratis" and "software libre" :)

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