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osOpinion: Software Freedom

Nov 05, 1999, 06:26 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by David Johnson)

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"My dictionary has fifteen definitions of "free", along with 36 sub-definitions. My dictionary also has two definitions for "freedom" with ten sub-definitions. What then does the "free" in "Free Software" really mean? What is the Free Software Foundation trying to tell us when they say Free Software is about "freedom?"

"The Free Software Foundation takes great pains to explain that Free Software is not about price or the absence of cost, but about freedom. But they do not define "freedom", taking it for granted that the reader knows exactly what they are talking about. They also bemoan the fact that English has only word for "free" whereas other languages have two; French as both "gratis" and "libre". But again, they fail to define "free". Since "free" and "freedom" are highly emotional words, it is important that they are properly defined in relation to Free Software (1). But as I mentioned above, my dictionary has two definitions for "freedom". The first definition is "the quality or state of being free". The second definition is "a political right". There are many sub-definitions as well."

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