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Read the Fine Print on "Open Source" Software

May 11, 2008, 04:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Reuven Lerner)

"Back in the 1980s, when Richard Stallman was the only one talking about the need for 'free software,' no one quite knew what he was talking about. That's not just because people looked askance at someone who said it would be possible to write a version of Unix that could be given away for free, along with all of the compilers, editors, and utilities that a typical Unix installation included. Stallman also managed to confuse people with the term 'free'--he used it as a political statement, saying 'free as in freedom,' or 'free as in 'free speech',' contrasting it with 'free as in 'free beer'.' But no matter how hard he tried, Stallman was faced with the reality that most people thought of 'free software' as programs for which you didn't have to pay money. The fact that Stallman's software was indeed designed to be given away without charge only added to the confusion..."

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