Eclipse Ecosystem

A blog devoted to promoting the Eclipse ecosystem

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Six (6) Degrees of Freedom

There is definitely a strong association between open source and "free" - but "free" is one of those words that has a lot of meaning. Over the years I've collected a number of definitions of "free".

Free as in Freedom. This is one of the more compelling aspects for developers. Freedom to just download and use. "Sticking it to the man", so to speak. No trial periods, no reduced functionality. Free software foundations notes it as "free as in liberty, or free as in speech".

Free as is Open. Everything is open and you can tinker at will. No black boxes, no"magic happens here" routines. Change whatever your skills and desire allow. No proprietary lock in or restraints.

Free as is Beer. There's nothing like a free beer. You enjoy the beverage and it has many pleasant after effects.

Free as in Puppy. This is one of the concerns managers have with free software and is a key argument commercial vendors use when competing with open source. The fact is that software has a learning curve and support & maintenance cycle. Just because the software license is free, doesn't mean the cost of ownership is.

Free as in Community/Ecosystem.I missed the 60's, but I hear it was a great example of free and open community :). Open source and community go hand-in-hand. Well, good open source does at least. It's not good enough to have free software if there isn't a community backing it up and continuing it's growth.

Free to participate. It should be easy to not only leverage the community/ecosystem, but easy to become part of it!

- Don


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