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Re: Learning from Free Software (was Re: [Fsfe-uk] Explanation of Tivosi

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: Learning from Free Software (was Re: [Fsfe-uk] Explanation of Tivosiation and problems - comment sought)
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2006 23:09:16 +0000

On Tue, 2006-12-19 at 22:25 +0000, graham wrote:
> Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> > In the 60s, all or most software cam with source code and nothing prohibited
> > or prevented recipients from using, modifying, sharing, or redistributing.
> > 
> > In the 70s this started to change and in 1983 RMS launched a movement to
> > bring these freedoms back.
> Yes, I'm aware that this is the orthodoxy. But it doesn't quite fit my
> memory, and I prefer to stay with that even if in a minority of one. My 
> memory says
> that while all programmes before the late 70s were open source, only
> some were free software - 'aggressively' open source, in a sense

To be honest, I think you're both right.

It would be difficult to describe code distributed in the 60s etc. as
'free software' - those freedoms were neither enumerated, recognised nor
enshrined. In a sense (to draw a parallel with another argument I had
the other day ;), it would be like labelling early farmers as organic.

The main problem is that early software was essentially non-economic: it
wasn't a product in it's own right, at best it was a necessary
accessory. For much of that time, writing software was seen as women's
work, which I think says everything.

But, at the same time, Ciaran's right that early software (though I
wouldn't necessarily put late 60s software in that category) was
basically distributed in a similar to manner to what we recognise as
free software now.



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