Free as in beer
Posted: 26 March 2017 05:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3024
Joined  2007-01-30

Just saw this in a headline. A quick google found this:

In software development, where the cost of mass production is relatively small, it is common for developers to make software available at no cost. One of the early and basic forms of this model is called freeware. With freeware, software is licensed free of charge for regular use, the developer does not gain any monetary compensation.

With the advent of the free software movement, license schemes were created to give developers more freedom in terms of code sharing, commonly called open source or FOSS. As the English adjective “free” does not distinguish between “free of charge” and “liberty”, the phrases “free as in beer” (gratis, freeware) and “free as in speech” (libre, open source) were adopted.

These phrases have become common, along with gratis and libre, in the software development and computer law fields for encapsulating this distinction

.

Another one I missed. Have the phrases been around long?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 March 2017 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6327
Joined  2007-01-03

I’d never heard it before, but it’s been around for a while. I’ve found a Google Books hit from 2001. It’s probably a few years older than that—Google Ngrams indicates a hit from 1997, but you can’t get a citation for the exact source. (Google Books and Google Ngrams don’t use the same database. The Ngrams database is smaller and curated for accuracy.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 March 2017 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4516
Joined  2007-01-29

I’ve heard it for years (I would guess since the last century, but of course that could easily be wrong), and I’m surprised Dave hasn’t.  Not an everyday phrase, but a very useful disambiguator.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 March 2017 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  472
Joined  2007-02-17

I hadn’t heard it. I like it, but I can’t offhand think of any context apart from computer software where a similar ambiguity would have to be disambiguated. Unlike the word ‘disambiguator’, which is used both technically and generally, but more technically, I think. So your familiarity with the word might indicate that your computer vocabulary is considerably larger than average. (This is nothing more than my instinct, evidence being scarce, so I’m prepared to be shot down in flames.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 March 2017 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  515
Joined  2007-02-13

Been hearing and using it for about twenty years or so, but I’m a coder who did his first Linux install around 1995.  The phrase is attributed to free software activist, Richard Stallman.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 March 2017 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6327
Joined  2007-01-03

I would question whether Stallman was the actual coiner. In the article that Wikipedia cites, Lawrence Lessig does not claim that Stallman coined the term. He just quotes Stallman using it. Given that the article was written several years, maybe even a decade, after the coinage, it’s more likely that Stallman was just using a known term. Nailing down the exact coinage of such a term is almost always impossible.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 March 2017 08:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  515
Joined  2007-02-13
Dave Wilton - 27 March 2017 01:58 PM

I would question whether Stallman was the actual coiner. In the article that Wikipedia cites, Lawrence Lessig does not claim that Stallman coined the term. He just quotes Stallman using it. Given that the article was written several years, maybe even a decade, after the coinage, it’s more likely that Stallman was just using a known term. Nailing down the exact coinage of such a term is almost always impossible.

Good point.  Did some digging and found this CNN article from 1999 written by Stallman.  Here he is quoting a critical paragraph by Stig Hackvan that appeared in LinuxWorld.  Did Hackvan coin the phrase, or is he referring to something Stallman said elsewhere?  Hard for me to say.  It just seems like most of us in the business, when we first encountered the concept of “free as in free beer” it was from Richard Stallman.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ Of periods and brackets      shazbot ››