Time Magazine: Man of the Millennium

George Herbert gherbert at crl3.crl.com
Tue Sep 29 19:24:07 EST 1998


TERENCE MURPHY <tsmurphy at cs.uiuc.edu> wrote:
>Peter da Silva <peter at baileynm.com> wrote:
>>I don't like the term "free software", because there's a lot of "free
>>software" in the PC world that doesn't come with source. No charge,
>>unlimited redistribution, just no access to the code. If you go around
>>using the term "free software" today you'll confuse people.
>
>Hardly.  The whole Linux army has really beat the proverbial free lunch
>vs. free speech analogy to death.  Most Usenet users thoroughly
>understand what "free software" means and will get physically nauseous
>the next time they have to sit through yet another explanation of the
>difference between "libre" and "gratis".
>I don't understand why Linuxers think people do NOT understand this.
>Rex Ballard talks about this in every freaking message he writes.
>And the term "Open Source" is just plain pompous.  And about ten
>times more disgusting when it is appended with "(tm)".

Usenet, and the Linux community, while important and large
subgroups of those who deal with computers (and I have to deal
with), are not the whole world.

There are literally hundreds of millions of computer-using
people worldwide who don't have the slightest clue what you're
talking about if you start in on the free software definition
of gratis vs fully redistributable source.  This crowd are
not insignificant in the scheme of things.  Neither are those
in the know, but in this day and age it transcends high folly
to aim computer discussions purely as the "in educated crowd".

Coming from a decade-plus experience with all this,
Open Source ("tm") is mildly annoying to me personally
as Yet Another Term for "Free Software".  However, I have
used it more than once a week since I first heard it,
explaining something to someone who wasn't that experienced
in free software.  This is not just people arguing with
you to be pedantic or annoying: the new terminology,
as irritating as a change over is at this stage in
the game, Makes Sense.


-george william herbert
gherbert at crl.com




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