Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 13:27:34 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rms" == Richard Stallman <> writes:

	Ian> Would free software ever have come into existence without a
	Ian> moral dimension?

    Yes.  ARPA.  BSD.  X Window System.  

    rms> Actually none of these three is an example of that.

I don't care _why_ they were produced, as long as the decision to free 
them wasn't primarily direct social morality.

Are they free?  Many implementations of the Internet functions are not
free, but many are.  BSD and X11 surely are, according to you.

Were the decisions to free them concerned with social morality?  X11
definitely not by your account; it was an economic decision.
According to Bill Joy, BSD was research and therefore should be
published like any other research.  This is closely related to the
sharing ethic of free software, of course; it is also part of the
contract with the NSF and other granting agencies.  Much of the
Internet is founded on fairly detailed specifications in public RFCs
which a journeyman programmer could implement (and many did), and no
prohibition of implementation was implied.  Pseudo-code and BNF do not 
a program make, I suppose, but it's not so much of a stretch to call
them "software."

The question, AFAICT, was not "did anyone set out to create free
software for moral reasons?"  It was "absent moral reasons, would
_any_ free software exist?"  BSD, by your account, might not have
figured out that publishing source code was a good way to report
research without the example of GNU.  The others would have existed
independently of GNU.

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."