Talk:FSF's "free software" ideal/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


I think we have several pages explaining the differences in the usage of the term free software. This is probably a good place to consolidate them. --STG

I don't agree with the definitions of freeware, as free software at no monetary expense. Shareware is almost always a version of the software in question with limited or a limited usage time.

Freeware is truly free and unlimited, but may be nagware or adware. Nagware is software that is fully functional but may request you to buy it every time you open the application. Adware is fully functional software that requires one to be connected to the internet to use it, in order that changing ads can be shown somewhere on the interface. Finally there is postcardware, donationware, and careware. Am I the only download junkie here??? AnonymousCoward

Don't forget "crippleware", which is a free limited-functionality program that itself serves as an advertisement for the more functional pricey version. I agree that the term "freeware" back in the old BBS days generally implied fully functional non-nagging free software. --LDC

I agree too. I have about 5 minutes before I have to get to work, though. Change it to your liking, gentlemen! Probably an entire article should be devoted to the topic of downloadable software, and freeware only getting a mention here. --STG

Someone has greatly reduced the amount of text here about shareware. Frankly, I hope ideologues will not remove this again, because it is, after all, one of the very commonly accepted understandings of the meaning of the words "free software." Am I just wrong? If so, please explain. --LMS

Shareware certainly is among those things people may refer to as "free software", and that fact should certainly remain here; but if it has its own article, why have anything more here than a link to it (with maybe a short gloss)?

It is my understanding that the vast majority of shareware is illegal to use after a certain amount of time, unless you register and pay. Usually the license says "you may evaluate for free, but if you like the program, you have to register". It isn't free, so the only reason it should be mentioned under a "free software" heading is that some people mistake it for free. --AxelBoldt

Please see below. I have downloaded many programs that call themselves shareware, without paying. (OK, so I'm bad.) Can I be taken to court and sued? I doubt it. --LMS
In principle yes, in practice no. It's similar to downloading a copyrighted MP3 song, or to distributing photocopies in your class room. --AxelBoldt

The matter of people's perceptions is certainly anyone's judgment; but I can verify that "shareware" is most definitely a specific term of art within the industry (as used, for example, by the Association of Shareware Professionals) for copyrighted software licensed under terms that allow redistribution but that require payment for continued use, and are therefore not "free" even in the "beer" sense (even though it is true that most such software can be, and is, treated as if it were free by most users--the rates of legal purchase of shareware are very low). --LDC

Lee, you make an excellent point, and I think that information should definitely be put into the article. (You'd probably be better at doing so than I would.) I don't think your inference from the definition is correct, however. I have a few different shareware programs that I have never paid for. I'm using them for free. They call themselves shareware because they're nagware, but there is no legal requirement that people continue to pay for them. Or is what I'm using not actually supposed to be called shareware, according the industry? If they (or I) are (am) wrong to call such programs shareware, then we ought to mention, even on free software (because it's essential to evaluating whether shareware is or isn't free software), that there is a controversy about what to call shareware. --LMS

I'm pretty sure that if you read all the license agreements that came with your shareware, you'll see that they require payment after the evaluation period is over. I don't think there is much of a controversy; everybody uses the term for the same thing. Nobody calls Linux or Microsoft Excel shareware; everybody calls Winzip shareware. It's just that most people are not aware of the typical shareware license. Shareware is not free in any sense of the word; it is payware based on the honor system. Even download sites like will distinguish between free and shareware.

But I agree with Lee: all of this belongs on the shareware page. --AxelBoldt

I had hoped that this revision [1] had solved the shareware problem. I put the shareware description that had been in Free Software into its own Shareware page, with a simple See also on the Free software page. I'd clear out the shareware minutiae from the Free software page. I hope LMS doesn't get put in jail for violating the DMCA now.

--The Cunctator

I am dubious that there isn't any controversy here, particularly because a professional organization with its own interests is involved. I am sure the term "shareware" has been around long before the professional organization was; why should they be allowed to define the term? Anyway, I don't care enough about that to insist on it strongly. But there's another point to be made--if the term is indeed so commonly misunderstood, as it obviously is, then it should be on the free software page at least enough to explain the misunderstanding.

Moreover, what are we supposed to call those very many downloadable programs where people ask for money but don't legally require it?

I'm sorry if I'm just being dense here, but I don't think I am. --LMS

I'm the "ideologue" who removed the shareware reference, but it was not for my insidious Free software, RMS worshiping agenda. ;-) All the shareware I've downloaded (and that's a lot, dating back to my pre-Internet BBS days) states that shareware is NOT free software; payment is expected and required. If no payment is required, it is called freeware. I am not aware of a wide-spread confusion of the two terms. I also think the current text in the article is inaccurate; shareware payment is not voluntary, as it is required by the license agreement. --Stephen Gilbert

I have to admit, I'm starting to think LMS (not to be confused w/RMS) is being a bit dense. Noone has asserted that the FSF is defining "shareware". Free software is no more an ambiguous term than is Free market. Not everyone knows what the term "free market" means, and I'm sure some people think it means "an open-air bazaar where people give stuff away", but that doesn't have anything to do with the definition "free market".

Stallman coined the term "free software". In its first use of the term, he was somewhat ambiguous about whether or not commercial transactions involving free software were possible, as historically, all commercial software at the time was proprietary.

In short, there's pretty much no historical record to support the claims for "controversy" over usage of the term, except for other recent claims by people who know what the term means, but may not like it.

STG, LMS--You're both right. Shareware has historically included both voluntary and non-voluntary payment agreements. A good amount of shareware have voluntary payment agreements--now disambiguated as "honorware". But I agree that the primary definition of shareware has evolved to involve non-voluntary licensing agreements exclusively.

Each of the terms freeware, honorware, shareware, charityware (etc.--see earlier discussion) are all related and different. And none of them are "free software".

--The Cunctator


In explaining the "political message" of RMS, I added "Stallman believes that all software should be free (in the FSF sense)." Is this actually true? I haven't really studied Stallman's writings much. I expect someone will correct me instantly if I'm in any way inaccurate here.  :-) --LMS

This is correct, for the right definition of "should". He has never advocated a law against non-free software, but he calls non-free software "immoral" since it prevents people from learning, collaborating and helping each other. --AxelBoldt


Why does this article claim "From a pragmatic standpoint, the terms are interchangeable"? This is not NPOV. First off, one side of the argument would disagree with the statement, so it would better to say "Open sourc proponents claim". Second, it isn't accurate, because open source software isn't necessarily free beer, much less free speech. It's open source. That's the point of the name. GregLindahl

The article was twisting itself in knots, and seemed to have become largely about defining other terms rather than discussing the topic. I've thus decided to be bold and rewrite it from scratch. Most of the existing issues are still addressed, but as compared to the main article rather than becoming it. Hopefully it's fairly NPOV too. Let me know whether this is an improvement. -- Bignose


According to wikipedia 'copyleft' was coined by Don Hopkins and not Richard Stallman. The Free software and the Copyleft articles now disagree with eachother. --arcade

This could be tough to sort out -
The Origin and Practice of "Copyleft" - -
"Transcopyright: Pre-Permission for Virtual Republishing" by Theodor Holm Nelson - - (says "the terms "shareware" and "copyleft," declared by Bob Wallace and Richard Stallman respectively, have come to represent their respective permission doctrines, both [are] now widely accepted and used.")
I'll avoid the debate altogether and remove the claim from this article (it now says RMS used copyleft, nothing about who coined the term). Such clarification and/or debate belongs in the copyleft article, so this article will avoid it altogether. -- Bignose

"The term was coined by Richard Stallman"? Give me a break! He didn't invent the English language! Come on, please write this article so that it does not assume that Stallman's conception of free software is the only correct one. That is simply not neutral point of view. You must acknowledge, in order to write the article from the NPOV, that there are other perfectly legitimate notions of what free software amounts to. You personally may not want people to have those notions; but they do have them, and it would be misleading to write the article as if those people were uncontroversially wrong in having them. They might be wrong, but they certainly are not uncontroversially wrong. This sort of activism on Wikipedia frankly makes me pretty angry. Wikipedia is not the place to promote your view about what should count as free software. So, rather than writing it that way, why not explain the controversy over the meaning of the phrase "free software"?

Another option, by the way, is simply to have an article titled Richard Stallmans view of free software. That would do the trick. Then you could wax eloquent about what "free software" means, for Stallman, and nobody could complain. --LMS

Larry, did you read the entire article? It talks about various meanings of the phrase. Apparently you think that should go higher up, but it is not NPOV to claim that it's not there when it plainly is. Going on to accuse the author of not wanting people to hold certain notions because you haven't read far enough is also not NPOV. This sort of activism on Wikipedia frankly makes me pretty angry; Ed doesn't know any better, but you have had this pointed out to you before, and you normally have a clue. So use it. GregLindahl

The problem is that the original article was designed to provide a general overview of the ideas of "free software" that are currently used.The rewrite has made the FSF view the dominant one, and tacked the others on at the end. The is already an article on Stallman's philosophy of Free software at Free software movement. Most of the new material here should be integrated with that page, while the old overview article should be restored here. --STG

Ah. Well, if that's what Larry's complaint is, he could have stated it a lot better. I'm still very unclear why Larry is attacking the author of the rewrite, but I guess Larry can speak up for his own indiscretions. GregLindahl

STG: right. Greg: I did read the entire article, and I'm surprised that you think that I overreacted. The article really was rewritten from a Stallmanian point of view, and it really does need to be rewritten (again) so that Stallman's view is not highlighted the way it is now in the article. "Neutral point of view" applies to articles, not to /Talk page comments thereupon. Also, Greg, you have misused the word "activism." If I am an activist for anything on Wikipedia, it is for the nonbias policy. --LMS

Larry, I'm surprised you can't see my point about your overreaction. In order for you to have a clue what the NPOV for this article is, maybe you should try harder to understand other people's views? I realize that NPOV does not apply to the talk page, but your lack of clue here does not speak well to your ability to criticize the article. And I don't think I misused the word "activism" at all; I see you reacting strongly to something that you disagree with, instead of using your head, perhaps because you're an activist against Stallman's opinion. I've said it a bunch of times now, maybe someday you'll notice. Or you can continue to tell me I'm wrong. I bet the second is most likely. GregLindahl

Greg, you could get a lot more traction if you tried to make your points without insulting me. What's the point of doing that? Anyway, I'll bite: exactly what is "the NPOV for this article" of which I am ignorant?

I am not an activist against Stallman's opinions at all! Even if I were a strong Stallman partisan, I would almost certainly see a problem with the article at present. Again, the whole point behind my comment is that I want to make sure that articles on controversial topics--like this one--are written so as to fairly include many different points of view fairly, not to emphasize one controversial one. That is what I crusade for. --User:LMS

If you say so, Larry; funny how you get upset when I did exactly the same thing to you that you did to the author of the article. But clearly I'm wasting my breath; I wish you luck in learning the true meaning of NPOV. You'll need it. GregLindahl

Gee, Greg, I'm genuinely sorry that you gave up so quickly. I can assure you that I am "listening" very intently to you, and I certainly do want to learn all I can about this, one of my very favorite topics. It interests and intrigues me greatly if someone thinks that I do not know the true meaning of NPOV, and yet is unwilling to share his knowledge with me. --User:LMS

Larry -- you consistently take the position that "The statements of I, LMS, are NPOV, while those of others are often biased". This is very offensive, and I know I'm not the only person to comment on this. I'm not saying you don't really think you're trying to support NPOV, I'm saying that you seem to be unable to formulate unbiased decisions on what constitutes bias.

How do you know whether I disagree with the stuff I am accusing of bias? In fact, I often agree strongly with stuff I harshly criticize for being biased. It's happened several times. I take issue with the accusation that I am unable to formulate unbiased decisions as to what constitutes bias. It's not hard to do: any reasonably intelligent partisan, or anyone sufficiently attuned to partisanship, can do it. All that's required is that one be able to detect that a point has been made, or made in a fashion, with which some other people (at least a significant minority) would disagree. What has led you to believe that I am "unable to formulate unbiased decisions on what constitutes bias"? --User:LMS

The fact that you consistently appear to be unable to formulate unbiased decisions on what constitutes bias.
That doesn't make any sense. I'm asking you to substantiate your claim that that is a fact.
I didn't say that you did disagree with the stuff (or that I "know" you disagree with the stuff). I said that you consistently take the attitude "I (LMS) am not biased, while other people often are." This is offensive and since you are also top admin of Wikipedia, it's your bat and ball. Imagine playing baseball with the kid who says "You guys are often wrong about judging balls and strikes, but I am always fair and unbiased - and if you don't agree with me I'm taking my bat and ball and going home." Not fun.
"I take issue with the accusation that I am unable to formulate unbiased decisions as to what constitutes bias. It's not hard to do: any reasonably intelligent partisan, or anyone sufficiently attuned to partisanship, can do it. All that's required is that one be able to detect that a point has been made, or made in a fashion, with which some other people (at least a significant minority) would disagree."
Your statement is consistent with my accusation. I don't like touchy-feely language, but we could say you are in denial about this.
Larry, please think. You know very well that people quite often criticize you for this. Possibly they have a point. Possibly they aren't all wrong, or don't all have a covert agenda. Possibly they sincerely see this behavior in you. Please try to work against the "I, LMS, am right - other people are wrong" attitude. I really think it hurts the Wikipedia. Really, Larry - at this point I'm saying this in sadness rather than in hostility.
This is ridiculous. First, it's silly to imply that I do not think about this. I do this for a living, and I think very hard about what I do and say here. Why should I take seriously these completely vague, puzzling comments from someone who doesn't even want to take credit for his or her opinions? I am paid to work on Wikipedia and to state my opinion.
If you want to impress me, tell me who you are and give me specific examples of things I've done wrong. I will listen and take to heart what you have to say, if what you say is reasonable. If not, I will call it as I see it. --User:LMS

Off track

We're getting offtrack here, folks. Let's put personalities aside and discuss the article itself. The problem is that the article read as if Richard Stallman presents the true meaning of the term "free software", and people who assign a different meaning to it are mistaken. Bignose, the primary author of the rewrite, thought that the original article was "tying itself in knots", to use his words, and he probably has a point. However, the main point of the original article was to present the different meanings of the term "free software", and provide jump points to less ambiguous terms such as freeware and the free software movement. I think there is a lot of good material in the new article, but most of it should be moved to the free software movement page, which deals with this exclusive use of the term. Meanwhile, most of the material from the old article should be restored, and probably be rewritten. I'd do it right now, but I have a paper to finish. So please, let's address the problems with the article, not the problems with the people talking about the article. ;-) --STG

Larry right--he didn't overreact at all. This article ight as well have been written by Stallman himself. "...coined the term free software", yeah, right. Four freedoms numbered and listed the way he does. This is so biased it's funny. I wish I had more time to work on it. In the meantime, simply moving the article to "Richard Stallman's (or FSF's) views on free software" would help a lot. --LDC

I disagree strongly with the attitude of some that this is "Richard Stallman's definition of free software". It is shared by all in the FSF, and to a lesser extent by all who count themselves in the free software movement. To move it to a page implying that it is the view of one man would be severely untruthful.
Listen to what you're saying: All of the FSF, all of the free software "movement"; that's still a totally insignificant fraction of ordinary human beings who are our audience, and even an insignificant fraction of the computer industry. This is a general-audience encyclopedia. --LDC
To those who think that "RMS didn't invent the English language" is some kind of rebuttal of the claim that he coined the term, I wonder how you think terms get coined in the first place? Yes, "free" and "software" had meanings before he coined the term, but that doesn't mean that "free software" as a term was extant, any more than "blue toe" would be a term coined by anyone until it was used to apply to something more particular than the words themselves imply. Does "free speech" become less a term that was coined, merely because the words "free" and "speech" existed before the term was coined? -- Bignose
I, personally, was writing and giving away public domain software--which we at the time called "free software" pretty regularly--as early as 1982, and I was a latecomer to the idea, as was Stallman after me. The author of "Wumpus" is a friend of mine. Yes, the free software "movement" that was created by Stallman is important and needs to be covered, but for Christ's sake let's not insult all the hardworking dedicated free software writers outside the "movement" by implying that we got the idea from a guy many of us don't even like that much. --LDC

Another edit

Another edit; I've removed the FSF definition since it merely rephrases what can be found at the FSF website. Hopefully the article now reads less like a RMS sermon. -- Bignose

What is the justification for removing the FSF definition? "Free software" is an FSF coinage.

Many seem to disagree. The FSF have their own page for the definition, which is referred to from the article; it isn't necessary to paste it here. It also distracted from the "freeware" link that was desired. -- Bignose

1. Evidence, please. That the FSF definition "isn't necessary" and "distracted" from the "desired" freeware link is a subjective judgment, not fact. Who are the many who disagree?

I must admit that this is the first place I've seen where people believe other specific definitions of "free software" exist. Rather than get into a "my definition is more valid than your definition" pissing match, I think working on the article some more is justified. -- Bignose

2. It is Wikipedia policy not to link to external sources for information. (Linking to external sources is great--leaving useful information off Wikipedia and forcing readers to go to external site is not.) If the FSF definition doesn't belong on the "free software" page (and this page seems like the best place to me--maybe I'm wrong) then it should be on another page, not taken off the site.

Done, the FSF definition is now duplicated to Free software definition.

That's why such links are usually called "External links and references", not "Additional resources". An "Additional resources" section should link to other Wikipedia entries, I'd think.

Really? I read "Additional resources" as being resources additional to Wikipedia itself, i.e. other websites or books. Wikipedia pages can be referred to simply with wiki links within the text. -- Bignose

3. To state that RMS coined "copyleft" is not misleading. Don Hopkins used the word in a phrase, but without any definition. RMS was the first to apply the neologism to a particular meaning. As Bignose said,

that doesn't mean "blue toe" would be a term coined by anyone until it was used to apply to something more particular than the words themselves imply

By that standard, RMS coined "copyleft".

Again, I don't think this article is the place to make claims to who coined "copyleft"; we already have the copyleft article to clarify that. -- Bignose

4. It seems appropriate to have put the "software libre" discussion in this entry.

5. While Revision 28 may have read like "a RMS sermon", the current revision is too populist ("To many encountering it...", "The experience of most users...",

I'm not sure I understand the complaint. My dictionary defines "populist" as "a member of the People's Party". What would you prefer to see? -- Bignose
That's a pretty lousy dictionary. The term "populist" predates the party by a century or two. It means, more or less, one who panders to the masses; i.e., one for whom the will, ideas, and beliefs of the majority are of paramount importance. --LDC

Revision of definitions

I have begun (but not completed) revision of the definition(s) of free software. I ask for help from Greg, LDC, et al., to polish it up.

I'd like the article to include a glossary of the various terms used for "software I can install on my computer without fear of being arrested" (my own personal ideosyncratic definition of free software).

  • shareware
  • nagware
  • freeware
  • sample software
  • trial sofware
  • free software (in the FSF sense)
  • utility software (included at "no extra price") in a larger package, such as Windows Explorer and Notepad which comes "free" with Windows OS's.

I have no desire to impose RMS's definition of free software as the only correct one. Let's try to work together folks -- that is my prayer to St. Ignucius.

Ed Poor, Friday, May 31, 2002

Ed, why did you create a mess at the beginning of the article? The first sentence, added by you, mentions the two definitions of free software - fine. So did the first sentence of the article before you touched it. Except you left that one in. Now the second sentence of the article precisely repeats the first sentence. The first sentence of the "Stallman definition" section (added by you) precisely repeats the second sentence of that paragraph. AxelBoldt, Friday, May 31, 2002


I removed the following:

Richard Stallman argues that many Open Source licenses are so restrictive, that like regular proprietary software licenses, they put users in a position where helping one's friend or neighbor is made a crime.

I need references for that. The open source license definition is virtually identical to the free software definition, so this seems rather odd.

In law, small changes matter a lot, the two definitions are very different. And RMS' antipathy for "open source" is well-known. I wouldn't be surprised if he'd said exactly that. -- Ark
I know that RMS doesn't like Open Source, and the reasons are well explained in the article, but the given reason is not one of them. Just compare the definitions. The OSI definition and the approved licenses Which ones are not approved by the FSF as free software licenses? AxelBoldt

Next, the article stated that Open Source advocates see source sharing

anything from a necessary evil to a positive good.

I need references from Open Source advocates who consider source sharing a necessary evil. That seems to be almost schizophrenic.

, as well as providing assurance to proprietary software owners that they can restrict distribution (esp. to paying customers).

Open source licenses do not allow software owners to restrict distribution. They allow to charge for software, like free software licenses, but after the software is sold, the new owner can distribute it at will. AxelBoldt, Thursday, June 6, 2002

I'm not going to revert, but I think you're mistaken about the open source licenses. Some of them do allow copyright owners to restrict distribution. In fact, that provides much of Stallman's beef with open source: it ain't "free" unless it's completely free.

That is not his beef. He agrees with the OSI definition, he just doesn't like the disemphasis of the freedom aspect. AxelBoldt
He agrees with the OSI definition? That's certainly news to me. Can you provide a references where he says or implies that?
Well, I'm sure he would have criticized the definition on if he had any beef with it. He explicitly says "The official definition [of open source] is much closer to free software [than to mere 'viewable source']". The only thing he criticizes is the missing freedom emphasis. He also has no problem with catering to business, as long as the freedom aspect is prominent. AxelBoldt

However, I agree that the burden of proof is on me, so I'll research more carefully and get back to you (eventually :-). Ed Poor, Thursday, June 6, 2002

Ed's right. What the definition calls "free redistribution" isn't redistribution at all. To comply with the definition, a license need not grant you the right to COPY software at all, merely to make modifications to the software you get and to pass or sell the copy you paid for to someone else (with or without modification).

This is false. You do get the right to copy the software and redistribute it, even though, admittedly, the definition does not use the word "copy". It's implicit from the "rationale" after point 1 of the definition. AxelBoldt
With the term "free software" people can use the GPL an the prototypical example. People know what it's supposed to mean, and nobody uses any "definition" to say that this is free software and this isn't. People are just as likely to heed The Word of Stallman as they are to bother with a definition. Definitions of free software just don't have any cultural value.

With "open source", the only thing people know is that it's a sop to business. That's the entire point of open source, as RMS accuses. And restrictions on the right to copy are clearly compatible with being a sop to business. And the OSI places a lot of emphasis on the OSD so it's important to examine it.
The fact that many open source licenses grant you the right to copy is irrelevant. Shareware does that too and it's neither open source nor free software. What's important is whether the right is guaranteed. From my point of view, there's nothing flawed about the OSD; it does exactly what it sets out to do. It precisely defines what open source means to the users of that term, at least those users who don't just use it as a synonym for free software. In fact, you are deluding yourself about open source being equivalent to free software and that's precisely why you're reading things into it that aren't even in the Rationale! Nowhere does the Rationale mention or imply the right to copy. You only think' it does because you have free software preconceptions. -- Ark

I knew that open source was bad but I didn't realize exactly how heinous and evil. Here's exactly how bad it is: the practice that Tanenbaum applied to Minix (and which most agree killed it) complies with the Open Source Definition perfectly. That is, it is possible to require people to buy licenses from your company for the software and ship modifications to that software in patch form only. So there's still an absolute monopoly on any particular software under Open Source. It's still the case that only Ford can make Ford cars. It's just that now you can tinker with your software and resell it, exactly like a Ford car.

Patch requirements are also allowed under the FSF free software definition. AxelBoldt
See above for why this is irrelevant. Besides, what killed Minix wasn't just the patch requirements. It was the fact that if you wanted to resell it with your patches, you had to pre-pay for it. If you ordered 500 licenses and only sold 450, you were in deep shit. Nobody wanted to take such a stupid risk. -- Ark

But on the psych issue it's not so simple. I'll explain. The difference between open and free is that free software is about idealism. There are people (such as Eric Raymond) who used to advocate free software and considered the idealism that came with it a necessary evil. Open software is about business value and I wouldn't be surprised if some people considered it a necessary evil. Of course, in that light, advocates of just about anything may consider what they advocate a necessary evil. -- Ark

Ark, thanks for agreeing with me, but upon re-reading the article (as modified by Axel), I think it works better without the quibbles Axel removed.

Perhaps in the Richard Stallman article we could expand on his views, particularly how he came to part company with Eric Raymond or vice versa.

By the way, open source isn't really a new idea. When DEC was selling the PDP-11 in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they threw in a free (as in beer) operating system with it. You got the source, and you could fix bugs! You were encouraged to share bug fixes with other users via a DEC-sponsored users group.

Of course no one dreamed of selling bootleg copies of the OS. It remained DEC property. But there was a free and easy atmosphere of cooperation facilitated by access to the source code. Ed Poor, Thursday, June 6, 2002

By the way, open source isn't really a new idea.

You have to distinguish between a practice and an actual concept in people's heads. And as a concept, open source is a new idea. That's one of the things that pisses me off about some movements, the way they trace back their history two thousand years when nothing before a few decades back had anything to do with what they say.

As for the article being fine the way it was, obviously I disagree.

"The Open Source movement started as a sop to corporations and I hope it gets raped for it."

is the sort of POV we want to exclude.

"Open source licenses need not include all the rights of free software"

is the sort of thing we HAVE to include in any comparison between free software and open source. Anything else is blatantly deceptive and simply unconscionable. -- Ark (free software hardliner)

Free as in beer?

Does the term "free software" ever get used in the sense of Free Beer? Or is this only a misconception? It seems to me that "free as in beer" is freeware and "free as in speech" is free software and the two belong on separate pages. -- Ark

Some people do use the term "free software" when they mean "freeware" but my personal experience is that these people are computer illiterate. --maveric149

Yup, most people on the street would define "free software" as free-beer-software. AxelBoldt

We don't care how they define it. I know how I'd define "free door" but that doesn't merit it an entry in the encyclopedia. Do they actually use it that way?

Proof needed

I need a proof for the following statement, assuming that "Others" includes people different from the writer of the sentence:

Others are more leery of the OSD and claim there are crucial practical differences [between the defintions]

To my knowledge, not even RMS claims that the open source definition has loopholes. After all, the OSD originated with the GNU Debian project, and all licenses certified by OSI are free software licenses. AxelBoldt, Friday, June 7, 2002

These seem like fine points, perhaps best left to the individual articles such as OSD or Debian. You did good work straightening out my hatchet job, Axel, and I'm happy enough with the article to move on. Ed Poor, Friday, June 7, 2002
Oh, all licenses certified by the OSI are free software licenses, are they? Wrong. Graue

I removed it and added some clarification based on a dimly remembered email from RMS. -- Ark

Selling free software

It's perfectly possible for you to sell free software. Redhat (among others) does it, and seems to be doing okay by it. At the least, most free software licenses grant you the ability to charge for at least the cost of distribution. Graft 16:04 Aug 12, 2002 (PDT)

I agree. I can sell a piece of GPLed software I have here that nobody else in the world has access to, and not violate the license. --GayCom