freeware != free software??? Re: Navigation

arne anka openmoko at
Tue Jan 5 13:21:50 CET 2010

> the term "free software" was coined in or before 1989, when the GPLv1 was
> published by the free software foundation [1].

a) the group "free software" is nothing but a combination of an adjective  
and a substantive, the adjective qualifying the substantive
b) qualifying a substantive with "free" has been in use long before the  
creation of "software"
c) "free software" is in no way an unique term or used uniquely by the FSF  
-- the sentence you are quoting very clearly proves that by saying
""When we speak of free software"
ie, the term is used in a certain sense in a certain context (the GPL) --  
but there's no way, the GPL is globally applicable ot the authors are in  
any way authorized to rule the use of those very common and widely used  
words in a very common grammatical construction.

to conclude the discussion: sebastian  would be right _only_ if somewhere  
in the discussion all participants had agreed to put the software in  
question under the GPL or at least use the GPL's definition.
i can't recall, that has ever happend -- insofar any claim to use the  
GPL's definition as the solely applicable one is not justified!

it is understandable to think in the trems of the GPL but it is not the  
only way to think.
thus, if any author claims his/her software to be "free software", he/she  
is entitled to it -- only if he/she accepted the GPL's definition as the  
binding definition of the term, his/her software has to meet the  
requirements laid down in the GPL.

> but arne, whilst i hugely admire your software chops and appreciate the  
> work you've done,

i don't know, what exactly you are talking about, but thanks anyway :-)

> i think you're wrong to insist that others join you because you think  
> free software means only "free as in beer".

i don't.
as i hopefully made clear, i think the meaning of "free" (or "free  
software") has to be defined before accusing somebody of misuse
and that definition was (and is) still lacking.
free might be as in "beer" or "speech" or "nothing to do" (and those of us  
coming from eg the former communist parts of europe, will remember that  
not only the meaning of "free" might differ but even the extend involved),  
but that is not clear beforehand and certainly not implicit, even if most  
of us tend to think in therms of the GPL.

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