...good thinking

Cooperatively-developed Software

The software.coop Development Promise

In 2002, software.coop was founded by people who believe that free software and cooperative development offers the world the best opportunity for sustainable computing, with users and developers working as equals with few barriers between them.

As a tech worker cooperative, we are both a software company and a free software development community. We do not speak for other communities, but we are a social enterprise and part of a wider third sector.

We promise that software we develop will be cooperatively-developed software, except for exceptional cases where we contract not to release it.


Why Do Open Data and Free Software (FOSS) Make Sense for Co-ops?

"Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others."

Self-help and self-responsibility
require the freedom to use the resource, for any purpose, without begging its copyright holder for each bit of permission;
democracy and equity
require the freedom to adapt the resource to your needs and control what you have added to the software;
equality, solidarity, social responsibility and caring for others
means that we need the freedom to share our improvements with everyone on the same terms (general public licensing);
honesty and openness
are delivered by us sharing the source code openly, instead of keeping it as a black box. All users should have the freedom to study the code and check it.

Clearly, Free Software is a very good example of cooperative values. Its users have:

  • freedom to use it;
  • freedom to study it;
  • freedom to share it; and
  • freedom to adapt it.

Our belief in free software being the right software for cooperatives is further strengthened by our principles:

  1. open and voluntary membership;
  2. democratic member control;
  3. member economic participation;
  4. autonomy and independence;
  5. education, training and information;
  6. cooperation among cooperatives; and
  7. concern for community.


The freedom to be in control of your own computing power is essential to give autonomy and independence, to build communities and to develop a sustainable information infrastructure. It's also very helpful in enabling democratic control, cooperation and education.

Software that doesn't give you freedom to use, study, adapt and share is a social problem. For another view of why it is a social problem, listen to an excerpt from Copyright vs. Community by Richard M. Stallman, 12 Sep 2007 (1.4Mb, Ogg Vorbis format - read a transcript)

Our approach is sometimes called Free and Open Source Software, Free/Libre and Open Source Software or even just FOSS or OSS.

Some groups use much longer and more complicated definitions or guidelines, but they should mean the same basic ideas: freedom to use, study, share and adapt.

Read our news for ideas about how you can help or buy software and services from us.

Free Software, noun:

Free Software Foundation Europe define Free Software in more detail, with slightly different words and in more languages, but we mean essentially the same thing.