freeware != free software??? Re: Navigation

Viktor Lindberg leth at
Tue Jan 5 16:09:30 CET 2010

On Tue, Jan 05, 2010 at 01:21:50PM +0100, arne anka wrote:
> > 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.

Qualifying a substantive with "free" is far older yes, but that is
not a point, nor is a) a point. c) may be a point but they're really
just bringing clearity cause the word is fuzzy.

> 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!

If one is to be used then that one should be used. Ethymologically
that is right, but also the other usage of the word isn't really
widely spread nor accepted by many today, it also makes no sense.

> 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.

GPL is not the only free license. Furthermore, if you by using the term
"free software" to describe software that is not free but gratis, you
have misused the word haven't you?

> > 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.

Yes free may be interpreted as free of duties (which i belive is what
you meant with "nothing to do") however interpreteing it as free of
charge is still not a very good thing cause it breaks the definition
of free.

Because free is such a fuzzy word, mainly due to misusage of the word
 one can use the words libre or gratis to distinguish them.

Open source is however not the same as FLOSS or Free/Libre Software.
The Open Source Movement have instead choosen to abandom the ethical
principle of freedom and only promote the use of Open Source software
that might not be libre (free as in freedom), which is not the same
idea as the Free Software movement has. For the Free Software movement
the idea of Free/Libre Software is that it should be free as in
freedom. Not just open for anyone to examine as is the case with Open

And mainly because there is such a large movement of Free Software
(free as in freedom) and the usage of free while in the discussion of
software the usage of the word free in regards to software
is in any case but the term "Freeware" analogous with libre software.

And you know what? Free as used in free of charge often can be
intepreted as you are free to do whatever you want to do with it, not
only that it is gratis. If i have a free soda pop for you, then you
can use it for whatever, even give it away to someone else.. for if i
attached criterias for why it is gratis then would it still be free?

Please clean up your own language usage to avoid things like this, it
is tedious to have to be carefull about the word free is applied only
because people do not consider their own language usage or the
consistancy in their language.

/end of arrogant rant about language usage.

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