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Free as in Speech vs. Free as in Beer, Redux

Oct 07, 2009, 06:04 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Rubens)

"We can also point out if we want to — or if we're Microsoft — that Linux and other free software usually isn't always free as in beer. Money often changes hands — Red Hat and Novell are testament to that — even if strictly speaking what you're paying for is called a support contract or a maintenance subscription.

"The point is that when we talk about free software, the free in question is the noble "study and modify" free, not the "I don't have to pay for this" type of free. This all sounds jolly high-minded, but there's just one problem: It doesn't happen to be true. The awkward fact is that the major appeal of free software turns out to be that it is free. As in beer. As in "I don't have to pay a bean for this. Whoopee."

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