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'[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.

Examples of careware

Non-commercial examples


  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.

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