Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 at 17:10

I write this article to explain the connection between software and service on the internet as my articles often mention them. The intended audience are people without deep knowledge in computing. This kind of explanation is needed because the computing is not as simple as one may thought. For example, one should be able to distinguish between WordPress the software and WordPress the service, so everything would be clear and no misunderstanding could happen in the future. Another example, one should be able to distinguish between PeerTube, Mastodon, and Jitsi the software with those three the services. My articles here which mentions such things are for example Riot/Matrix Intro, Alternative-World Resources, Code Hosting list, and Stay at Home Solution the series, among others. This explanation is wished to be useful too to understand circumstances outside of this website. Happy learning!

(A Mastodon instance is an example of mix between software and service on the internet)
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Few Words

  • In computing, there are many names and also many names to name names.
  • We need to distinguish between software and service although both may have same names.
  • It is useful to put everything in its own place and not lump everything together to be clear from any confusion.
  • Most people do not directly need the software but the service instead.
  • There is no dichotomy of "official and unofficial" while the former is better than the latter as everyone gets same chance to create the best service possible.
  • Installing the software into a server computer creates a service.

Few Names

  • Software: the code as the product of programming by a project. For instance, a software can be downloaded.
  • Service: the activity that is served through the internet. Behind every service must be a software. For instance, a service can be registered into and has Terms of Service letter.
  • Server: the software required to install in server computer to give service.
  • Client: the software required to install in user's computer to use service.
  • Instance: synonym of service.
  • Gate*: the web page that helps you choose and register quickly among instances.

*) I choose this term myself and you are free to agree or disagree.

Few Types

Talking about between internet software and service means talking about several types of things:

  • Website: also called Content Management System (CMS), every website we see on the internet.
  • Social network: something known similar to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Video sharing: something known similar to YouTube.
  • Instant messaging: something known similar to Yahoo! Messenger, Slack, WhatsApp, etc.
  • Video conferencing: something known similar to Skype or Zoom.
  • Voice conferencing: something know similar to Twitch or Discord but voice only.
  • File sharing: something known similar to Google Drive.
  • Document collaboration editing: something known similar to Google Docs or Microsoft 365.

Few Popular Technology

Here are few popular Free Software Technology I often mention in my articles in this site

  • Riotim: an instant messaging media with all in one features.
  • Jitsi: a video conference media.
  • BigBlueButton: a video conference media with schooling/teaching features.
  • Jabber: also called XMPP, a chatting media which has been a standard for more than 2 decades.
  • WordPress: a website maker or often classified as CMS.
  • Mastodon: a social media like Twitter.
  • PeerTube: a video sharing media like YouTube.
  • SearX: a search engine like Google.
  • Gitea: a source code management media like GitHub.
  • Nextcloud: a complete solution to Google Services e.g. Calendar, Drive, Docs, etc.
  • Collabora: also called LibreOffice Online, a complete replacement to Google Docs or Microsoft 365.


Universal client is your web browser program. For most services, you just need Mozilla Firefox or such program to do activities with them. For example, to visit WordPress website or watch PeerTube video, you just need web browser and no need to install any other program. However, some services requires or optionally requires client software, for example, to use Mastodon social network it is enough to use browser but more convenient to use specific client program like Tootle (computer) or Tusky (phone). Another example is Jabber instant messaging service, which requires you to use client like Gajim (computer) or Conversations (phone). As addition, there are many other things in the internet known after the clients, such as Email, IRC, BitTorrent, remote desktop, and so on.

First Example Mastodon and Mastodon

There is one Mastodon software. There are many Mastodon services. To use Mastodon you need Mastodon service. Mastodon is a social network similar to Twitter but better because of federation.

The one who created Mastodon is Mastodon Project, a group of programmers. The ones who serve Mastodon services are instances, parties who maintain servers in the internet that allows people to use Mastodon. Technically, every instance installs Mastodon software into their server so you can go to their address and see their Mastodon Social Network website.

Second Example Jitsi and Jitsi

There is one Jitsi software. There are many Jitsi services. To use Jitsi you need Jitsi service. Jitsi is technology works within your web browser to do video conference between you and friends.

Third Example WordPress and WordPress

There is one WordPress software. There are many WordPress services. WordPress is a software that is if installed in a server it turns into a website that can be visited by people.

The software is downloadable at The service is available at (to register to and create new website).

As a consequence, there are a lot of parties which serve services to create WordPress-powered website aside from Those are called hostings and not instances like DigitalOcean and so on (for example, I myself use gratis hosting from to create my own Free Software News Aggregator website based on WordPress software).

Learn More

To know further about these, you can read interesting resources from our Free Software Community especially first two links below:

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.