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Careware (also called charityware, helpware, or goodware) is software licensed in a way that benefits a charity. Some careware is distributed free, and the author suggests that some payment be made to either a nominated charity, or a charity of the user's choice. Commercial careware, on the other hand, includes a levy for charity on top of the distribution charge. [1] It can also be a barter of some kind, or even a pledge to be kind to strangers.



The concept of careware and the first known use of the term itself appeared in Dr. Dobb's Journal in Al Stevens' C Programming Column in about 1988. Stevens was developing a user interface library and publishing the source code in monthly installments. To distribute code to readers, Stevens suggested they send him an addressed stamped mailer with a blank diskette. He copied the code onto the diskette and returned it. He also suggested that to express their appreciation they include a dollar, which he would donate to the local food bank in Brevard County, Florida. Stevens named this distribution method "careware." [2]

Paul Lutus's [3] careware idea involves no monetary exchange - instead it involves a request for the user to "stop complaining for a while and make the world a better place." [4]

For example, the vim text editor is free software but includes a request from its author, Bram Moolenaar, that users donate to ICCF Holland for work to help AIDS victims in Uganda. Vim's Charityware license has been declared by Richard Stallman to be GPL-compatible. [5] Another current example is MJ's CD Archiver, a file archiver for Microsoft Windows/Linux/Mac OS X. The suggested charity is NACEF, a US-registered charity for China's Project Hope.

A close variation of careware is donationware, which has a stricter definition than careware.


Non-commercial examples


Related Research Articles

Software Non-tangible executable component of a computer

Software is a collection of instructions and data that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast to physical hardware, from which the system is built and actually performs the work. In computer science and software engineering, computer software is all information processed by computer systems, including programs and data. Computer software includes computer programs, libraries and related non-executable data, such as online documentation or digital media. Computer hardware and software require each other and neither can be realistically used on its own.

Free software Software licensed to preserve user freedoms

Free software is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty, not price; all users are legally free to do what they want with their copies of a free software regardless of how much is paid to obtain the program. Computer programs are deemed "free" if they give end-users ultimate control over the software and, subsequently, over their devices.

GNU Free software project

GNU is an extensive collection of free software, which can be used as an operating system or can be used in parts with other operating systems. The use of the completed GNU tools led to the family of operating systems popularly known as Linux. Most of GNU is licensed under the GNU Project's own General Public License (GPL).

Shareware is a type of proprietary software which is initially shared by the owner for trial use at little or no cost with usually limited functionality or incomplete documentation but which can be upgraded upon payment. Shareware is often offered as a download from a website or on a compact disc included with a magazine. Shareware differs from freeware, which is fully-featured software distributed at no cost to the user but without source code being made available; and free and open-source software, in which the source code is freely available for anyone to inspect and alter.

Vim (text editor) Improved version of the Vi keyboard-oriented text editor

Vim is a clone, with additions, of Bill Joy's vi text editor program for Unix. Vim's author, Bram Moolenaar, based it on the source code for a port of the Stevie editor to the Amiga and released a version to the public in 1991. Vim is designed for use both from a command-line interface and as a standalone application in a graphical user interface. Vim is free and open-source software and is released under a license that includes some charityware clauses, encouraging users who enjoy the software to consider donating to children in Uganda. The license is compatible with the GNU General Public License through a special clause allowing distribution of modified copies "under the GNU GPL version 2 or any later version".

vi Keyboard-oriented text editor

vi is a screen-oriented text editor originally created for the Unix operating system. The portable subset of the behavior of vi and programs based on it, and the ex editor language supported within these programs, is described by the Single Unix Specification and POSIX.

Open-source software Software licensed to ensure source code usage rights

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner. Open-source software is a prominent example of open collaboration.

Live CD

A live CD is a complete bootable computer installation including operating system which runs directly from a CD-ROM or similar storage device into a computer's memory, rather than loading from a hard disk drive. A Live CD allows users to run an operating system for any purpose without installing it or making any changes to the computer's configuration. Live CDs can run on a computer without secondary storage, such as a hard disk drive, or with a corrupted hard disk drive or file system, allowing data recovery.

Source-available software is software released through a source code distribution model that includes arrangements where the source can be viewed, and in some cases modified, but without necessarily meeting the criteria to be called open-source. The licenses associated with the offerings range from allowing code to be viewed for reference to allowing code to be modified and redistributed for both commercial and non-commercial purposes.

Incremental search

In computing, incremental search, incremental find or real-time suggestions is a user interface interaction method to progressively search for and filter through text. As the user types text, one or more possible matches for the text are found and immediately presented to the user. This immediate feedback often allows the user to stop short of typing the entire word or phrase they were looking for. The user may also choose a closely related option from the presented list.

Arachnophilia HTML editor

Arachnophilia is a source code editor written in Java by Paul Lutus. It is the successor to another HTML editor, WebThing. The name Arachnophilia comes from the term meaning "love of spiders", a metaphor for the task of building on the World Wide Web.

Free/open-source software – the source availability model used by free and open-source software (FOSS) – and closed source are two approaches to the distribution of software.

In the 1950s and 1960s, computer operating software and compilers were delivered as a part of hardware purchases without separate fees. At the time, source code, the human-readable form of software, was generally distributed with the software providing the ability to fix bugs or add new functions. Universities were early adopters of computing technology. Many of the modifications developed by universities were openly shared, in keeping with the academic principles of sharing knowledge, and organizations sprung up to facilitate sharing. As large-scale operating systems matured, fewer organizations allowed modifications to the operating software, and eventually such operating systems were closed to modification. However, utilities and other added-function applications are still shared and new organizations have been formed to promote the sharing of software.

Copyleft Practice of mandating free use in all derivatives of a work

Copyleft is the practice of granting the right to freely distribute and modify intellectual property with the requirement that the same rights be preserved in derivative works created from that property. Copyleft in the form of licenses can be used to maintain copyright conditions for works ranging from computer software, to documents, art, scientific discoveries and even certain patents.

Proprietary software, also known as non-free software or closed-source software, is computer software for which the software's publisher or another person reserves some rights from licensees to use, modify, share modifications, or share the software. It sometimes includes patent rights.

Bundling of Microsoft Windows is the installation of Microsoft Windows in computers before their purchase. Microsoft encourages original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of personal computers to include Windows licenses with their products, and agreements between Microsoft and OEMs have undergone antitrust scrutiny. Users opposed to the bundling of Microsoft Windows have sought refunds for Windows licenses, arguing that the Windows end-user license agreement entitles them to return unused Windows licenses for a cash refund. Although some customers have successfully obtained payments, others have been less successful.

The Shared Source Initiative (SSI) is a source-available software licensing scheme launched by Microsoft in May 2001. The program includes a spectrum of technologies and licenses, and most of its source code offerings are available for download after eligibility criteria are met.

Game-Maker MS-DOS-based suite of game design tools

Game-Maker is an MS-DOS-based suite of game design tools, accompanied by demonstration games, produced between 1991 and 1995 by the Amherst, New Hampshire based Recreational Software Designs and sold through direct mail in the US by KD Software. Game-Maker also was sold under various names by licensed distributors in the UK, Korea, and other territories including Captain GameMaker and Create Your Own Games With GameMaker!. Game-Maker is notable as one of the first complete game design packages for DOS-based PCs, for its fully mouse-driven graphical interface, and for its early support for VGA graphics, Sound Blaster sound, and full-screen four-way scrolling.

Visual Studio Code Free source code editor by Microsoft

Visual Studio Code is a freeware source-code editor made by Microsoft for Windows, Linux and macOS. Features include support for debugging, syntax highlighting, intelligent code completion, snippets, code refactoring, and embedded Git. Users can change the theme, keyboard shortcuts, preferences, and install extensions that add additional functionality.


  1. "What is a charityware?". Retrieved 11 January 2010.
  2. Stevens, Al (1 August 1991). "C Programming". Dr. Dobb's Journal. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
  3. "Paul Lutus". 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  4. "The CareWare Idea". 18 October 1998. Retrieved 11 January 2010. Date information retrieved from included metadata of Microsoft Word 7 version of the article.
  5. "VIM license".

This article is based on material taken from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing prior to 1 November 2008 and incorporated under the "relicensing" terms of the GFDL, version 1.3 or later.