freeware != free software??? Re: Navigation

Tom Yates madhatter at
Tue Jan 5 12:56:40 CET 2010

On Tue, 5 Jan 2010, arne anka wrote:

[Sebastian Krzyszkowiak wrote:]
>> I think you're now confusing free software with freeware. Free
>> software app has to be open source (but not in opposite way -
>>  freeware and open source apps not always are free software)
> huh? since when and who made that decision? for all i know, the line 
> goes between open source and free. open source has not to be free and 
> free has not to be open source.
> to signify what you have in mind, the term foss was coined. and just the 
> need to add "f" signifies that free is not open source per se (and vice 
> versa of course).
>> Remember, in "free software" term free means freedom, not free beer
>> (as in freeware) :P
> that is only _one_ meaning. as human language goes, the very same word 
> might have a lot of meanings -- depending on context, speaker, time or 
> place.

for the sake of record keeping (and because i think it's an important 
distinction, though i accept that others disagree):

the term "free software" was coined in or before 1989, when the GPLv1 was 
published by the free software foundation [1].  it quite clearly embedded 
the definition of "free" that sebastian refers to when it said:

"When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. 
Specifically, the General Public License is designed to make sure that you 
have the freedom to give away or sell copies of free software, that you 
receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the 
software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you 
can do these things. ".

the term "free software" may well have been in use before then, but it was 
set in stone by 1989.

the term "open source" was coined in early 1998 [2], nearly a decade 
later, by a group of people who _inter alia_ objected to the ambiguous 
meaning of "free" in ordinary english.  FLOSS and FOSS were terms coined 
later, off the back of the term "open source".

it's true that english is still ambiguous in its definition of "free", but 
it's not fair to say that "free software" is an ambiguous term.  it has 
been precisely defined for over 20 years, long before the term "open 
source" was coined.  when sebastian speaks of "free software", i think 
he's right to impute the FSF's definition of freedon to it.

please by all means use the terms "open source", FOSS, FLOSS and so on if 
you find they help crystallise your thinking, but arne, whilst i hugely 
admire your software chops and appreciate the work you've done, i think 
you're wrong to insist that others join you because you think free 
software means only "free as in beer".

hopefully i'm not offending anyone by jumping in with a bit of history!


   Tom Yates  -


[2] :
"The decision by some people in the free software movement to use the 
label “open source” came out of a strategy session held at Palo Alto, 
California, in reaction to Netscape's January 1998 announcement of a 
source code release for Navigator."

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