Re: Deadly accurate article on the state of GNOME and its relationship to the FSF

From: Stephen D. Williams (
Date: Fri May 04 2001 - 12:04:39 PDT

Karl Anderson wrote:

> Eirikur Hallgrimsson <> writes:
> > was free in 'every rational sense of the word.' He forgets that the FSF,
> > did, in fact, define the term Free Software. In 1983. Sticking to their
> > definition does not do them discredit.
> The FSF can't have defined the term "free software", that's a way too
> general term to take over. That'd be like saying that the company I

Sure they could, and they did. Whether alternate definitions gain ground is
another matter. The term 'free software' didn't exist, i.e. the phrase wasn't
in common use, until Stallman 'coined the phrase'. The prior term was
Shareware. I used to know exactly which piece of software first used
'Shareware', but it's faded from memory for the moment. There was also
'Freeware', 'demoware', etc. from that era.

'Open Source', for instance, was 'coined' along with an organization and a
fairly specific test for 'open enough'. It therefore gains a default meaning,
modified by reference to a specfic license like MPL, QPL, etc.

> work for defines what a "digital creation" is. That's why we still
> have to explicitly say this is "free-speech software" or "free-beer
> software", and we always will. That also seems to be what the author
> is saying. You can argue that KDE's freeness, or BSD or Artistic or
> ZPL's freeness etc., aren't free enough, but I call them all free
> software, if not FSF-Approved Free Software.

There are some defined lines. BSD and Artistic are free. The old QPL wasn't,
but now that there is a GPL'd version, it is. BSD, Artistic, and LGPL deserve
a different category since they are 'free' even for commercial co-use.

> --
> Karl Anderson


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