Subject: Free software: "movement" vs "software"
From: "D.V. Henkel-Wallace" <>
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 05:49:53 -0800

    Date: Sat, 6 Nov 1999 00:30:01 -0700 (MST)
    From: Richard Stallman <>

    In the early stages of the Free Software movement, we made great
    use of email, and we also used ftp; but the software we were doing
    it with was not free.  The Internet code in BSD was made free in
    1989 or so under the influence of the Free Software Movement.  The
    UUCP software used back in 1984 never became free as far as I know;
    rather, the GNU Project developed a free replacement for it.

    I think this point is not a major issue, but I may as well set the
    record straight.

This is a major issue.

The free software movement really is distinct from free software.
Remember what free software was like back when the FSF started.  Yes,
there was few software like FIDONET, but most of the "free" stuff was
really only "free" to the elite.  Computers were still pretty
expensive, and the free stuff was mostly tied to it.  E.g. you god
TOPS-20 with your PDP-10.  You could get a BSD tape for a nominal sum
but only if your institution already had a unix license.

Most of us were completely ignorant of the issues that RMS raised.  I 
always got sources "free" with the hardware I used and had no qualms about 
passing modified bits around to other colleagues with the same 
hardware.  But there was essentially nothing like that outside the large 
research establishments.  The PC world (and back then that included Amiga, 
Mac, and even CP/M) was pretty much proprietary and shareware-based.  A 
glance at some old magazines from that period is pretty sobering.

In addition, the very existence of the FSF and the GPL helped
reinforce or generate other free software projects.  Linus has written
of its influence on Linux.  We wouldn't have started Cygnus without
rms' having created the framework or environment in which it could
exist.  Without the FSF we might not have realised that the world
we lived in (under which we passed sources around) was under attack,
until it was too late.

Which goes to reinforce Ian's point that the free software movement is
still so small that individuals continue to have a critical influence
(something which is far less true in the commercial web world, or at
all true in, say, the car business).

I maintain that without the FSF there would be no FSB's.