Subject Re: [IBDI] Free Software. A few comments for perspective. Response to rant.
Author Jason Wharton
I'll insert my comments below.

Jason Wharton
CPS - Mesa AZ

----- Original Message -----
From: "David K. Trudgett" <dkt@...>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2002 4:07 PM
Subject: [IBDI] Free Software. A few comments for perspective. Response to

> Please read the following in the neutral tone in which it was written.
> It is not flame bait, but just some reasonable observations.

As will mine be, maybe.

> 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.

Interesting that you are saying I am not perceiving what I am and that I
therefore must be dillusionary.
That is the very first step in the straw-man argument ploy, not going to get
us far doing that.

> 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).

You are fairly close there and possibly close enough to make this discussion
worth while.

> 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.

I like FBS better.

> 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;

I'll admit it does take away a jaded edge I was putting on it.

> 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;

I was implying that it is possibly harmful and that software decisions
should be made more responsibly. But, ya, evil is pretty close to what I was

> 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
> undefined.

When I see people taking heat for asking money for efforts on a pretty
regular basis it is clear that a new mindset is sweeping over things. I
think you have to admit there are a lot of people who are expecting more and
more to get their software goodies for free.

> 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).

I have issues with this.

> [] 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.

I have issues with this too.

> 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.

That principle applies well to relationships if you use the currency of
relationships, namely genuine love and true respect. If you give none of
that to your relationships I can guarantee you are going to have a worthless
one. You get what you pay for, generally, with relationships too.

> 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
> case.

First of all, there was a hell of a price paid for Firebird. I know I went
through the trenches to help get it where it is right now. There is a store
of energy that gave it an initial boost. But, the direction things are
headed the well is going to dry up. That is why I used the word "ultimately"
because it implies in a closed circut if the inflow stops the outflow will
stop as soon as whatever capacitance existed is drained.

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

It is an easy way to express a very sound and simple economic principle. If
you don't see how it applies here then you are pretty far gone on this free

> > 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.

Your point here evades me. If I bust my butt producing tools so that other
people can make good money it is simple ethics that I somehow receive a
portion sufficient for my life's needs to be met.

One thing about trustware, as I envision it, is that the more that comes in,
the more goes into the product for the benefit of the consumer. I also
consider the funds I receive for personal use to only be partly mine. They
really are more like donations to the community than license fees to line my
pockets. If I get anywhere with trustware it will have clauses which also
bind upon the vendor's considerations as well. Like me, if for some reason
IBO really starts going gangbusters and makes a half a million a year for me
(which I am not even near that in all the almost 6 years I've been doing
this) should I be using the money to be live in the lap of luxury or be
hiring additional staff to enhance, support, better document, etc. In short,
trustware will have some bi-directional trust issues. The license will be
based on principles, no teeth other than the human conscience. Yes, that
could end up going the way of capitolism I suppose. But, I'm giving it
thought to structure it in a way that the principles will be so clear and
vivid with some checks and balances that massive virtual corporations could
actually be strung together by these core principles.

> > 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.

I believe Trustware is the best (of course) and I chose to state that as my
What are its disadvantages that you see?

The tools I have put together will always carry with them the trustware
consideration. That's actually one thing I like about trustware so much. You
could theoretically cast it atop of any of the free (meaning freely
accessible) software distribution schemes. Really is all it says is that
whoever uses this code in the process of making money successfully is
honor-bound to consider contributing what they can based on simple
guidelines. There is no legal teeth to trustware either. It really is more
like a clause than an actual license. The license part is that I
trust/expect everyone to understand the clause and abide by it.

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

I'm inclined to agree with all you said above.
Although I consider it fashionable to say so.
Just depends on who's opinion you are more in league with.
This nation has some pretty gross illness and sticking heads in the sand
isn't going to solve them.
What the US desperately needs are some SOULutions, not SELLutions.
But, I'll take it the way it is because I can live in my own home in superb

> > 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.

Ever heard of the Open Source Initiative? Oh well...

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

Or from being able to integrate your existing un-free software with their
free software. It forces people like me to play their game and find another
way to make a living, or just go somewhere else and find whole new form of
making a living. What the hell does it matter to them if my tools which I
ask a little money for can or cannot be integrated with theirs? In short,
folk like me are, in essence, being ran out of town. It's an economic impact
ploy, plain and simple. You are just fully seduced.

> It is difficult to imagine how making Free Software unfree could be
> beneficial to the community.

I don't claim it would be and this point is entirely outside of what I am
getting at.
But, I will take an opportunity to pose the question, why should they care?
It's kind of like they are saying, you can do anything with this source but
make money.

> > 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.

I suggest you ponder on this some more. It would help most if you put
yourself in someone else's shoes, especially since you seem to claim to have
the right to unqualifyingly speak on everyone's behalf regarding what is
"best". If you care to try on one of my shoes, I'd be glad to help.

> > This is with regard to the virulent, rather than trusting,
> > nature of its clauses. This supposed utopian model will quickly
> > into despotism if it isn't upheld in full cooperation by the free will
> > 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.

You obviously don't get my point.

I'll rephrase if you like, unless you care to demonstrate more readily that
you do in fact get my point. Maybe you do and just chose a poor analogy.

> > 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
> > wonderful the ideals being enforced are. I see some sad parallels
> > in the industry and I don't like it. I think it is degrading to the
> > goodness of the human soul.
> This is a particular view that most people don't share.

Most people in this world must know too little about themselves then.

Or, are you simply referring to the parallels in our industry?

> > 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
> > to get every smart little cookie on the planet slaving over "free beer"
> This seems to be an overly paranoid way of thinking.

Yes, likely so. That's why I only label it food for thought.
It kind of goes with the motto, hope for the best and plan for the worst.

> > I think to a large measure America has done good with its position of
> > power and I would not like to see the scene this world would cast if
> > 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
> This reminds me of the red flag and the bull cliche. Not everyone
> shares such US-centric views of reality.

Well, if George Washington's vision continues to pan out the way he saw it,
you just may come very close to having a look at that reality, whatever it
will be.

> David Trudgett
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