Free Software

   14 May 2004, early evening

A common subject of discussion at Slashdot is free software. It is common to describe software that is free in two ways: software can be free like beer, and software can be free like speech. In the former case, we are speaking of free in a monetary sense. In the later case, we are talking of your liberty to do what you please with a program.

The fuss over Moveable Type was that it was free in the free like beer sense. Moveable Type didn’t cost anything, and was really nice, so people naturally would choose to use it. But it was never free software. SixApart were never granting users rights to do what they will with SixApart’s software. SixApart are well within their rights to do what they please with Moveable Type. This problem wouldn’t have existed if Moveable Type was free as in speech. Mark Pilgrim dicusses this in more detail with lots of good links.

I use Textpattern, which is also free as in beer, but not as in speech. Dean has commited to keep the software free for personal use. That’s usually free enough for me. However, this whole episode illustrates the problem with software that is not free.



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