Comments on: The F-Word Official blog of Red Sweater Software Wed, 10 May 2006 23:11:10 +0000 hourly 1 By: JazzCrazed Sun, 14 May 2006 20:09:18 +0000 Very interesting read.

First, I’m glad that you added the update regarding cost, because it is completely irrelevant to the concept of free software. But I have a very nitpicky gripe about your update which you can ignore if you’d like; you obviously still can charge for the software you write even if you release it as binary-only – you just can’t release it under the GPL (whereas you’re suggesting that you have to give away your software for free if it isn’t open-source).

Second, Patrick’s point is extremely important. You say in the fifth paragraph that you’re cornered by FSF conditions into “speaking” only in a certain fashion, but in truth the FSF is enabling you to be as free as you possibly can, by demanding open-sourced code. It’s obviously impossible to speak freely about software that is proprietary, since you have no access to the source code, and so the FSF with its GPL imposes this requirement. Outside of the cost reference, you seem to frame this as an obstacle to free expression, but actually it guarantees it.

There’s other points I want to pursue, but I haven’t the time at the moment… Thanks for your interesting post!

By: Daniel Jalkut Thu, 11 May 2006 15:44:03 +0000 Mike: Thanks! I really appreciate it.

Patrick: I very much welcome your comments and I think they are eye-opening. I think the “liberated” angle is very interesting, because it clarifies that it’s the software itself that is free, not the owners or the users. I can definitely appreciate that idea.

I’m sure I don’t completely understand it, yet. Just proof that Free is indeed darned tricky.

By: Patrick Correia Thu, 11 May 2006 04:22:06 +0000 Even considering your update, I’d still like to comment on the “free” software issue. I hope this doesn’t come across as GNU fundamentalist dogma, because I intend only to add my two cents to what I think was a very well-considered and thought-provoking article.

I think there’s an important distinction missing from your discussion of the GNU approach to free software. I would propose that “free as in speech” is a bad analogy for free software in the first place, since free as in “free speech” means “unencumbered” or “unrestricted”, where free as in “free software” means “liberated”. What’s “free” in the case of free software is the knowledge, the ideas represented by the source code; they’re free from being locked away forever in some binary format that doesn’t allow them to spread. The user of the software isn’t free — in fact, the user is largely what the software is gaining freedom from.

Taken this way, the GNU approach seems to me to be entirely consistent with the meaning of “freedom”.

By: Mike Oldham Wed, 10 May 2006 23:11:10 +0000 Nice read.