freeware != free software??? Re: Navigation

Pieter Colpaert freepage at
Tue Jan 5 17:01:29 CET 2010

Since this is a mailinglist about openmoko's «free»runner, I think it's
normal to assume everyone on this mailinglist understands the idea
behind the free philosophy.

On Tue, 2010-01-05 at 16:09 +0100, Viktor Lindberg wrote:
> 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
> Source.
> 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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