Subject: Re: Sun, BSD, and GNU
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 16:41:52 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rn" == Russell Nelson <> writes:

    rn> Stephen J. Turnbull writes:
    >> But to me, a free software business is any business that as
    >> part of its normal profit-oriented practices produces or
    >> distributes free software or free documentation for software.

    rn> There's that nasty four-letter word.  Did you mean libre or
    rn> gratis?  Hard to tell from the context, yet if you mean
    rn> gratis, then you're calling Microsoft a free software
    rn> business.  I don't think such a definition is useful.

I meant libre, of course[1].  I have to deduce from rationality that
libre -> gratis (modulo first copy fees, duplication costs, and
bundled services).  "Gratis" is accidental, and wholly uninteresting
to me as an economist[2]; all that is important about it is that it is
impossible to fully recover development cost through sales revenues,
but that would still be true if somehow price was capped at a
sufficiently low level (eg, by government regulation of MS Word as a
public utility, scary idea, huh).

Is there general agreement on this list that "libre" be used instead
of "free"?  I don't have a problem with either word; I favor "free"
only because (or something
immediately accessible from there) provides a cogent argument for it,
and it seems to be in common use here as well as in the community at
large, despite the efforts of the OSI.

I think the libre/gratis distinction is useful, and would adopt it if
there was substantial support for it (particularly on this list).  But
I don't think it's useful enough to personally buck the trend without
that agreement.

[1]  Well, _I_ thought so _at the time_.  In the context of FSB; I
wouldn't be so careless in general discussion, not even on a Linux

[2]  "Free samples" occur in many contexts (in some cases as loss-
leaders where the entire stock of a product is given away), but they
simply amount to marketing costs; they have nothing to do with price.

University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."