Subject Free Software. A few comments for perspective. Response to rant.
Author David K. Trudgett
Please read the following in the neutral tone in which it was written.
It is not flame bait, but just some reasonable observations.

At 16:46:33 -0700 on Tuesday 2002-04-16, Jason Wharton said:

> This whole "free beer" software trend

I'm not aware of the "free beer software trend". As far as I know, it
doesn't exist. Talking about something that doesn't exist is not
conducive to clear thinking, so we should precisely define the phrase
in order that it refer to something that does exist.

It would appear that the intended meaning is that there exists a
growing number of people who expect to obtain all or some of their
software without paying commercial licensing fees for it. It is thus
assumed that software obtained for only the cost of physically
obtaining it (such as having a CD-R burnt and mailed to you), is
regarded as "free beer software", ignoring the fact that the "purchase
price" is not the only cost of software (there are also training and
administration costs, and forced upgrade costs, for example).

Now, since "free beer" appears to be being used in a perjorative
fashion, we will need to replace it. The phrase "non-commercial" would
almost do the job except that it might imply the software could not be
successfully used for commercial purposes. So, we will have to use
something like "licensing fee-free software" instead, or "LFF
software" as an abbreviation.

The subject of the exchange is therefore the allegation that there is
a growing number of people who look to use LFF software for some or
all of their needs. [DEF1]

There are some interesting observations to make about this:

1. With the perjorative term removed, the issue is much clearer;

2. It is now easy to see that the use of the term "free beer" is
meant to imply that it is an evil not to charge licensing fees;

3. There is also the implicit assumption that a significant number
of people are involved in this "growing number", otherwise there
would be nothing worth discussing; however, "significant" is

4. Framing the discussion in terms of LFF software instead of Free
Software, encourages the reader to accept the premise that the
licensing cost is the only important differentiating factor
between software. In other words, it tries to make the reader
forget about the freedoms that all of us deserve to have in
order to control our own lives.

As a reminder, these freedoms are:

[] The freedom to run the software, for any purpose (freedom 0).

[] The freedom to study how the software works, and adapt it to
your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a
precondition for this.

[] The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your
neighbour (freedom 2).

[] The freedom to improve the software, and release your
improvements to the public, so that the whole community
benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a
precondition for this.

The above are the four conditions that Free Software is required to
meet, and is courtesy of the Free Software Foundation

> just may teach us a sad lesson, you generally get what you pay for.

The phrase, "you get what you pay for" is an old cliche, and is
worthless in terms of any reasonable discussion, especially when
couched with the word "generally". If it were reasonable to use this
thoughtless cliche, then it would be reasonable, for example, to
conclude that, generally speaking, one's wife or one's husband is
worthless because one did not pay any money for her/him.

In fact, the use of the phrase here is highly ironic, because it would
imply that Firebird and InterBase are worthless, since they can be
obtained without paying licence fees. Perhaps it would be claimed that
Firebird is a special case, to which the obvious rebuttal is that
almost every significant piece of Free Software is its own special

It is exceedingly obvious upon a moment's thought that the saying is
simply false in the general case.

> I also don't feel to settle for anything less than a just
> compensation for my efforts that benefit others monetarily.

The issue, of course, is not "just compensation for efforts". It is,
instead about being able to make a lot of money using a particular
business model. Let's be clear about the fact that no one has any
natural right to make money using any particular business model. That
is the way it is, and it's certainly the way it is in capitalism.

> That's why I chose the Trustware concept so privileges would go to all
> regardless of economic standing. I don't want to be a brat.

The Trustware model is not bad. It's a lot better than the common
alternative. It's also not the "best" model in terms of what's best
for everyone. Note that there is no suggestion that the IBO model be
scrapped and replaced with a Free Software licence, because it's not
my place to do so.

> essential needs (none of this vain opulence crap America is so hung up on)

The US, in particular, I suppose you mean. That seeking for opulence
is the only thing that makes capitalism work. One could say that it
*is* capitalism, which is a system that allows the worst aspects of
human nature to come into play. The simple fact is that capitalism is
evil at its roots, although it is unfashionable to say so. The
fashionable thing is to claim that capitalism is value neutral; but
that, unfortunately, is not true. Fortunately, pure capitalism does
not exist anywhere on earth, including the US. That is a subject for
another place and time, however.

> My biggest complaint with current OSI trends like GPL. etc. is the

OSI means Open Systems Interconnection (the seven layer model and all
that). This meaning is much more important than "Ontario Swine
Improvement" or "Open Source Initiative", both of which have very
little to do with the GNU GPL and Free Software.

> infringements on free will and choice in the usage and integration of the
> products.

The only thing Free Software, such as software covered by the GNU GPL,
prevents you from doing is taking Free Software and making it unfree.
It is difficult to imagine how making Free Software unfree could be
beneficial to the community.

> They are designed to ultimately take choice away from people in
> the long haul.

This is a false statement. It also makes the implicit assumption that
the right of an individual to do whatever he likes is more important
than the common good.

> This is with regard to the virulent, rather than trusting,
> nature of its clauses. This supposed utopian model will quickly degenerate
> into despotism if it isn't upheld in full cooperation by the free will and
> choice of its recipients. It's kind of like communism. Good ideals but

It has nothing at all to do with communism or socialism, or any other
of those evil "isms". It is just as capitalistic as the current closed
source, proprietary models (if that makes one feel any better). It
would be similar to saying that money couldn't be made from science
and mathematics because of all the free exchange of ideas that occurs.

> enforced rather than willingly espoused and respected. It kills the
> lifeblood of the human soul to force them to be a certain way no matter how
> wonderful the ideals being enforced are. I see some sad parallels developing
> in the industry and I don't like it. I think it is degrading to the inherent
> goodness of the human soul.

This is a particular view that most people don't share.

> Just some food for thought here... I don't necessarily have a conspiracy
> theory about how America's economy is being weakened by the radicals trying
> to get every smart little cookie on the planet slaving over "free beer" OS

This seems to be an overly paranoid way of thinking.

> I think to a large measure America has done good with its position of global
> power and I would not like to see the scene this world would cast if America
> were to fall down in the dumps and lose its power. Should it eventually
> crumble the power vacuum would be enormous and very disabling to the world,

This reminds me of the red flag and the bull cliche. Not everyone
shares such US-centric views of reality.

David Trudgett