Free as in “puppy”

Speaking of religions (see my last blog entry): there is another new religion today (at least in parts of the IT world), and it's called "free software" (or "open source software", which practically means the same thing, if we leave out any nitpicking about definitions). John Carroll wrote a nice commentary "A response to Richard Stallman" for ZDNet which discusses some philosophical and economic aspects of this new faith that Stallman et al. are trying to spread. Worth reading.

Comments (7)
  1. Clarke Scott - says:
  2. It is not "nitpicking". Words have meanings. To pretend that they don’t and we can use words to mean things that they don’t mean and freely replace them with others at our whim simply for purposes of arguing a point without bothering to know enough about the subject to argue authoritively is a shame and a waste of a potentially good dialog.

    There is open source software that is not free. There is (much more) free software that is not open source. Interchanging the phrases causes confusion for all parties involved.

    Imagine someone railing against .Net because it was case sensitive. Or because it wasn’t case sensitive. I don’t think it is "nitpicking" to correct someone and tell them "you don’t like C#’s case sensitivity, don’t say ‘.Net’, say ‘C#’."

  3. … run-on sentences, free to a good home…

  4. FrankPr says:


    Yes I understand that *in principle*, free software and open source software are different things. But in the sense that Stallman gives them, they seem the same to me. He wants *all software* to be free, and that means source code, does it not?

    Now, let me make clear that I myself find free software very valuable, and open source stuff appropriate in many conditions and environments (think academia). What I find completely ridiculous is to demand that all software should be free and open source – that’s irrational to religious, and that’s the holy war that Stallman is fighting. And all the big proponents of OSS (IBM, Oracle, Sun, …) only use this to fight Microsoft where Microsoft makes most of it’s revenue: operating systems and office software. Why don’t they make all of their software open source if it’s so great? Where do we find the source code of DB/2 or Solaris? That’s hypocrisy.

    So if you agree that both proprietary and free (or open source) software have their right to exist, their advantages and shortcomings, than we don’t have a problem.

  5. I think Stallman is guilty of the crimes I state above.

    Free and Open Source are not the same thing. Period. When people like Stallman (and Clarke Scott in this post: ) completely confuse the words either on purpose like Stallman or on accidentally like Scott [presumably accidentally, he refused to answer my questions in his comments and even deleted them] it dilutes the conversation to the level of the "we’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?" cheers from opposite sides of American football stadiums.

    Of course free, open, and proprietary software have a place and purpose. My current aggragator is free but not open, my blog engine (and yours, and Clarke’s) is both free and open, I use components in my development that exist in every point of the spectrum between Free and Proprietary, but my work is only free and/or open if forced to be so. Every dollar I make is due to a Microsoft product in one way or another, 90% of my work involved MS SQL Server, ASP, ASP.Net, VBA or other MS technologies.

  6. FrankPr says:


    Of course you have a point here. I should have been more cautious with my equality statement since it only works in one direction (OSS practically means free). Stallman wants to make it work in both directions. That’s a problem if this turns into religion.

    Thanks for insisting on clear concepts.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I live in Longview Tx. and I wanted to get a new puppy. My little puppy was just stollen from us. If you could please get in touch with me my name is Jennifer and my phone # is


    Thank You

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content