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Author Topic: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?  (Read 5887 times)

wraith808

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Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« on: October 08, 2013, 10:41:35 AM »
I've not seen any pushback on this particular topic in the realm of newspeak.  Free has always meant free as in I give you something for no charge.  But now, we need such disambiguations:

From Free Software on Wikipediaw
Quote
Free software may refer to one of the following.
  • Freely redistributable software
  • Free software, defined by the Free Software Foundation, is software which may be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed ("free as in free speech"), but is not necessarily available for no charge
  • Open-source software, similar to free software
  • Free and open-source software, software that can be classified as both free software and open-source software
  • Freeware, software available for zero price, but not necessarily with the rights to modify and redistribute it
  • Free Software Magazine
  • Free Software Magazine (China)

And when I say that my software is Free, because of the appropriation of the term Free Software by Stallman, people say that it's not.  

Isn't that the same as the newspeak that the establishment practices?  Re-appropriating known and well-defined phrases to mean something else?

...sorry, just a rant, as you give stuff away for free that has taken your time and effort to develop and people rail against you because you won't give the source (which in many cases you can't).  But I really want to know where the demarcatory line is drawn on such practices.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 08:08:37 AM by wraith808 »

mouser

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2013, 10:51:20 AM »
I have huge respect for Richard Stallman, but the attempts to "re-brand" and co-opt the term free as it applied to software programs, from the original meaning free of charge to the new meanings related to source code availability and options, was a big mistake and continues to lead to some confusion. But no point getting agitated about it, the attempt has not been very successful.

40hz

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2013, 11:19:42 AM »
 Stallman almost singlehandedly popularized the term "free" software.

Unfortunately, he made a bad choice when it came to picking the handle he wanted to apply to his idea. And then (in true geek fashion) refused to change it (and became increasingly insistent) when it became obvious that most people didn't think of "free software" in the meta-sense Stallman does. And nobody is as pigheaded as a geek when they're caught out being just a little too geek. (He's still pissed with the Linux community because nobody wanted to go along with his pun to officially call it LinGnux.)

I think a lot of RMS's hangups come from the era Stallman grew up in where "no quarter" was the norm in political debate when confronting "The Man."

Stallman is what he is. I try to forgive him his failings and underdeveloped social skills. He gave us a lot. And most of his warnings and concerns turned out to be spot on in the end. Check up on the news stories posted onnTechdirt and related sites if you need convincing.

40hz

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2013, 11:34:55 AM »
@Wraith

FWIW "free" is whatever you choose it to mean. Everybody abuses the term these days and most people don't really believe it anymore.

As far as source code goes, if you didn't place it under GPL or similar "open source" licensing, you have absolutely ZERO obligation to share it. And the people that actually bothered to read up on and understand F/OSS licensing know that quite well. Most of us in that camp prefer something go out under GPL et al. But there is only a small minority (mostly noobs who never wrote a single line of code) that get shrill about it. Ok...just them and Richard Stallman... ::)

Ignore them. Just do your thing your way.

Like we say in the FOSS word - If you don't like what you're given, either: write your own, fork it, or fsck off.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 11:40:41 AM by 40hz »

MilesAhead

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2013, 01:28:46 PM »
I've encountered some of the same thing about providing source code.  For a small ahk hack I wrote myself it's one thing.  But if it's C# as example, I may have used free components or controls dropped on a form and it's just not practical to try to distribute someone elses controls or components.  Also it's not always in my memory where I got every one of them. It might take longer to trace all the stuff I dropped on the form than to do the dropping.

But I wish they would pass a "plain language in licensing" law like the plain language insurance law they passed in Massachusetts in the 70s or sometime thereabouts.  I mean, it's absurd when it would cost $500 in lawyer fees to get an interpretation of license language for $10 software.  Like, can I use it or not?  Can I sell a program written using this control, function, component etc.. or not??  There's no practical way to know other than being sued.

wraith808

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2013, 02:03:07 PM »
Unfortunately, very true :(

skwire

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2013, 02:38:51 PM »
As far as source code goes, if you didn't place it under GPL or similar "open source" licensing, you have absolutely ZERO obligation to share it.

But there is only a small minority (mostly noobs who never wrote a single line of code) that get shrill about it.

These, +∞.

I've released a veritable shit-ton of freeware over the years and it still pisses me the f@#k off when folks act entitled to source code.  These folks act like, just because my applications are free, that they simply ought to come with the source code by default.  Sometimes, it makes me think like I'm being selfish by not sharing the source.  Then I think, "Piss off...I'm the one who sank the hours into this and built it.  It's mine.  Nothing selfish about that.  Be satisfied that you are entitled to use the application for no charge."   And, like 40hz says, the type that cry the most about it are folks that couldn't code their way out of a wet paper sack with a box cutter.

MilesAhead

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2013, 02:45:35 PM »
Quote
it makes me think like I'm being selfish by not sharing the source
I know  how you feel exactly.  I was a mechanic and neighbors would ocassionally ask me to help them out with their cars.  Having an older brother  in the same business, I took his advice.  I would stand and watch as they did the work.  I'd offer advice.  But if something went wrong, well they did it!!  If I touched the car then the temptation is to make me fix everything even if unrelated aftwards.  The old "it was fine  until you touched it!" routine.  Nobody is so picky as someone getting something for nothing sometimes. It's unfortunate, but it can bring out the worst in some people.

40hz

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2013, 03:10:15 PM »
This is why I think most developers should create a standard closed license, require registration for a NO-CHARGE (as in "not free") copy of the software, and avoid the word "free" like the plague.

It's important to manage expectations and set the baseline understanding right up front. Even if you technically are giving the copy away, don't ever characterize your product as "free software."

Many font designers handle this in a very clever way. If you go to their sites for a freebie, you often discover you need to register first to download. All their no-charge fonts go in their shopping cart just like everything else they offer does. An invoice gets generated with a total of $0 which gets emailed to the 'buyer' along with the download link plus a copy of the license. Brilliant!

After that, you have no doubt in your mind about who was doing who the favor. Plus it gives them the flexibility to initiate a charge at any time - as well as offer "discount codes" for the people they still want to give no-charge copies to.

With FOSS products you often have hundreds of very qualified developers working on the project in anything from an ad hoc to highly structured and formalized manner. Many hands make for light work. And many eyes for quick debugging. (Or at least so the sacred words of St. Foss tells us. I have my own personal doubts about that assertion sometimes.  :nono2:)

The private indy developer or small code shop, however, doesn't have the luxury of that resource. And simply GPL-ing your product isn't going to automatically get it for you.

The thing to remember is that the original FOSS philosophy is all about community first and projects second. So if you're doing your own project, and want to have total control over its form and progress, setting things up as a FOSS project is misguided.

If you're the type that likes to sit down and "group code" and have a "the more the merrier" attitude when it comes to participation, doing a FOSS project might make more sense.

Whenever dealing with the general public - manage expectations and know what you're getting into.
 8)

40hz

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2013, 03:16:42 PM »
Nobody is so picky as someone getting something for nothing sometimes.

Like the old Yankee saying goes: Tis better to give than lend. And it usually costs the same.
 ;)

Renegade

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2013, 03:41:56 PM »
WTFPL FTW!  :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

wraith808

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2013, 04:12:11 PM »
Many font designers handle this in a very clever way. If you go to their sites for a freebie, you often discover you need to register first to download. All their no-charge fonts go in their shopping cart just like everything else they offer does. An invoice gets generated with a total of $0 which gets emailed to the 'buyer' along with the download link plus a copy of the license. Brilliant!

Actually, now that you point this out, this is exactly what I told my wife to do, but didn't take my own advice.  She's a photographer, and to build up her name/portfolio, she regularly does stuff for free (especially for the kids in the neighborhood/friends of my kids).  I told her to generate invoices and put down the price of her services discounted to zero rather than just doing it for free, so that they and others could see the value that they were getting.  Makes a lot of sense, even if it does involve more work.

40hz

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2013, 04:32:45 PM »
Tipo Type does a "pay what you want or a Tweet" thing that I also think is very smart. See here. Grab a copy of Rufina while you're at it. It's a lovely font!

Lookee here!
Screenshot from 2013-10-08 17:31:48.png


Consider...just because you're willing to give something away doesn't also mean nobody is willing to pay for it. Many people (myself included) are happier paying at least something for a product they know they're going to use.

Why just leave money on the table (or miss out on some FB or Twitter buzz) when you don't have to?

skwire

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2013, 10:21:33 PM »
I was thinking more along the lines of a DBAD license.

The Don't Be A Dick|Douchebag|Dumbass|Dork|Dillweed|Dipshit License

1) You are welcome to use the software at no charge.  DBAD.
2) A good faith effort has been made so that the software does what it says.  That said, you, the user, are not guaranteed anything.  DBAD.
3) Use at your own risk; the author shall not be held liable for damages arising from the use of the software.  DBAD.
4) Unless offered of the author's own volition, the author is under no obligation to provide source code.  You, the user, are not entitled to it simply because the software is offered at no charge.  DBAD.
5) Above all, DBAD.

Renegade

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2013, 10:41:56 PM »
I was thinking more along the lines of a DBAD license.

The Don't Be A Dick|Douchebag|Dumbass|Dork|Dillweed|Dipshit License

1) You are welcome to use the software at no charge.  DBAD.
2) A good faith effort has been made so that the software does what it says.  That said, you, the user, are not guaranteed anything.  DBAD.
3) Use at your own risk; the author shall not be held liable for damages arising from the use of the software.  DBAD.
4) Unless offered of the author's own volition, the author is under no obligation to provide source code.  You, the user, are not entitled to it simply because the software is offered at no charge.  DBAD.
5) Above all, DBAD.

 :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

wraith808

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2013, 10:55:49 PM »
+1000 :)

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2013, 11:43:22 PM »
WTFPL FTW!  :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:

... And then they Copyrighted the page!

Right...


TaoPhoenix

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2013, 11:57:39 PM »
Well, this is a bit of a surprise!

My other hangout is Slashdot, which (used to?) lean much heavier on the Free As in FOSS side.

Several points I don't yet see represented:
1. So what DO you call "what is now called 'FOSS' software?" If you could turn back time and call it anything, what 8 letter word or less do you call it? See the problem of LibreOffice.
2. The word "Free" has been beyond zombified, then eaten by Cthulu and spat up, then dumped into Loch Ness, where it later became microbe lunch. That's because Physical Goods vendors have used 100+ definitions of "Free" that mean random things.
3. As the humanities type, why exactly wouldn't you release the source code? Are Bastardized Copies really that bad?
4. Copyright Happened. Specifically "It doesn't in fact matter if you got a program 'free of charge', without the extra license then there's always a deep remote threat the vendor can later get sneaky and try to sue you for copyright." And that wouldn't be so bad if the fine was $325. But instead it's $325,000.
5. Things like Licenses will always be a mess because you don't want to be arguing the word "D-Bag" in a court case. Because people like Prenda Law just want to see that on the official court testimony in a frame on their wall as a joke with clients over beer.



TaoPhoenix

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2013, 12:01:05 AM »
I've not seen any pushback on this particular topic in the realm of thinkspeak.  Free has always meant free as in I give you something for no charge.  But now, we need such disambiguations:

What does that first line even mean? Straight up, what is "thinkspeak"? And how have you managed "not to see any pushback"?! It must depend where you do your internet work. Because fifteen years of Slashdot has showcased "pushback".


Renegade

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2013, 12:29:07 AM »
WTFPL FTW!  :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:

... And then they Copyrighted the page!

Right...

It is ironic, but it's also a systemic problem. You can't have 50 versions of a license, so you can't have people take "WTFPL", rewrite it, and call it "WTFPL". It defeats the purpose of a license.

So while it is ironic, it's really no different than using any given word. When I say "tree", I can't be talking about something to drink coffee out of, or a mode of transportation. If people did that, communication would be impossible.

For a great example of why this is, watch this Twilight Zone:

https://en.wikipedia...y_(The_Twilight_Zone)

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Vurbal

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2013, 01:10:01 AM »
Richard Stallman deserves a lot of credit for what he's done, particularly PR-wise, WRT the development landscape. I actually disagree somewhat with the use of the word free in this case, but that's pure pedantry. Not at all coincidentally that's why people use the word freedom when they're actually referring to liberty which is similar and related but not the same thing. In fact it's completely sensible that the word free would be used to describe open even if it's technically incorrect.

On a side note a friend of mine told me a great story about his first contact with Richard Stallman - maybe his only contact. The friend was a brilliant developer I grew up with named Michael Graff. Back in the 90s he was responsible for what was probably the first really modern (worldwide, Internet-based) distributed cracking project which led to the factoring of RSA-129. It wasn't actually a big deal to be able to do it by that time but because the standard dated back to the 70s there was a nice little award ceremony for his team in New York City. A few days before the ceremony he got a call from Stallman basically demanding that he use the event as a bully pulpit to make a strong statement about free software.

Now Mike has nothing against free software. At that time he was already a key developer for NetBSD (as in commit access level) and not long afterward he designed, implemented, and administered the first PGP keyserver. However he also understood the opportunity this award presented for launching his career when he got out of college shortly afterward. When he explained that Stallman apparently threatened to organize some sort of demonstration to coincide with the award - probably an empty threat he hoped would scare a college kid.

I don't remember where the ceremony was held, but I do remember Mike said it was a very tall building and that he told Stallman if he saw him that day he would throw him off the roof.

As to the question of releasing source code, I look at it like this. Software development is essentially not all that different from any other creative endeavor. At the end of the day it's every bit as personal and every bit as much a part of you as a painting, book, song, or whatever is to its creator. You are under no obligation to share any part of that process you aren't inclined to share with the rest of the world for whatever reason.

I love that people do share. I love the philosophy of open [fill in the blank]. I follow it personally and have no intention of stopping. But it's asinine to hold it against somebody that they choose not to go that route. It's a personal choice and frankly none of anybody else's damn business.
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I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2013, 02:42:43 AM »
I would like to separate a couple of mentions of "obligation"  I have seen so far vs "insightful". I do not *require* you to release the source code. But it can be a choice you do and it can help from the Pointy Headed Boss type "advantage" to just that you just run out of time and 2 more guys add a brilliant new section and then only a 3 hour meeting handles the new sharing aspects.

See elsewhere, I am really just on the verge of starting my Political Software project. Since I don't program, I am Commissioning it. Any one of you who wants in is welcome! But it is in fact 10% because I *haven't* gotten any hits yet that I AM going to outsourcing. But if you save the code, yes in one brilliant world you might get Swiped by Google and cheated, but in the others, you can just have people add features once a year.


mouser

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2013, 06:40:22 AM »
Quote
I told her to generate invoices and put down the price of her services discounted to zero rather than just doing it for free, so that they and others could see the value that they were getting.  Makes a lot of sense, even if it does involve more work.

this is a realllllly good idea.  An invoice with the full price the work is worth, and then a discount of up to 100%, so they see what it's worth.

ayryq

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Re: Am I the only person bothered by the differences in Free?
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2013, 07:52:11 AM »
This thread really made me think about my perceptions and habits as a software consumer.
(Background: I'm really not a coder, but I released one free and open-source project a long time ago that I've spent this week supporting for a friendly but entitled-sounding user).

My thoughts were mostly about trustworthiness in software, not so much quality. There are basically two places I'll download Closed-source Free-like-beer (FLB) software:
  • Here
  • Someplace an actual person recommended

But for free-like-speech (FLS) software, I'll try anything. I guess my implicit assumption is that if the code is available it's probably not going to do anything malicious to my computer. And as far as I can remember, that's held up. (Installation checkboxes for browser toolbars notwithstanding).

This attitude of mine is loosened for obscure programs, and redoubled for common ones. For example, there are hundreds of FLB Windows programs for converting videos, and I wouldn't download any of them without searching here first for some advice. But if I found one on SourceForge, I'd go ahead and try it, see if it meets my needs.

And really, I don't even think payware is exempt from this. I just don't trust closed-source software (as a rule), and if that's not fair, at least you know that I'm right some of the time--see the proliferation of sites purporting to identify if software or websites are "safe" or not. (This all goes for Android too, where practically every "app" spies on you to some extent.)

Now, for someone like my parents, I expect the list of places they'll download software to be shorter:
  • Someplace I told them to go
  • Someplace my brother told them to go
But that's just me trying to keep my skills de-crapping computers rusty :)