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O'Reilly: Who's Funding Free Software?

Feb 26, 2003, 09:00 (14 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Jason Greenwood for this link. ]

"Where would you be if Free Software went away tomorrow? Personally, I'd be sunk--my daily toolkit includes bash, vim, ssh, Mozilla, AbiWord, OpenOffice.org, and Perl. That doesn't mention the countless underlying tools and libraries that come into play. Without Perl, this publishing system would be gone. Without bind or sendmail or Apache, the Internet would barely exist. Without Linux or BSD (and I apologize for apparently conflating the BSDs with "Free Software", but I'm on a rhetorical roll here, so please bear with me), we'd have no inexpensive community websites, no roll-your-own weblogs. Without MySQL and PostgreSQL and the other free databases, we'd have flat files and...

"Without languages like Perl and PHP and Python and Ruby, I'd have very little to write about. Without gcc, even C and C++ would be tricky. Would anyone outside Sun still care about Java if it weren't for the Blackdown guys, or Jakarta, or all of the tools they produce?

"Without all of this wonderful software, we'd plunge back into the Dark Ages. (It's tempting to say that the barbarians who sacked Rome represent proprietary software, but that leaves the unenviable metaphor of saying that unchecked expansion left the hackers soft around the edges, and no one wants that...!)"

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