Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Free as in Freedom

From: "Mahesh T. Pai" <paivakil spam spamgmail dotcom>
To: Murali D. <MuraliDe maps mapsleft to right at gmaildot remove this space com>
Subject: Free Software

Dear Sri Murali,

I just came across an interview with Mr. Umashankar, MD of ELCOT done by you.

I am reading the online version of The Business Line, and the article is reported on 

I have been following several of your writings, probably ever since you have been writing for The Hindu, and have viewed the immense research you put in behind your articles.1

However, in the above article, there is more than one gaping error, and I hope you will correct at the earliest.

I take the liberty of quoting (what I consider as) erroneous part here:-

A brief description of Open Source (OS), for the lay reader. Open source software (OSS) means the source code of the software is open for viewing and editing. The users have the freedom to edit the source code, rename it and use it as they wish. This is contrary to proprietary software, which does not allow the buyers/users to look at the source code.. Open source should not be confused with free software. Open source software can be priced too. Free software is not priced at all. The similarity between the two is that both OSS and free software enable the users to view and modify the software code. Commencing mildly with the Linux operating system in the early 90s, today OSS controls major systems in the world. This includes the day-to-day use open office software on the desktops to the operating system for the most powerful mainframe computers of the corporate world..

I am very well aware that you are writing for the lay reader, and would like to point out that you would have been correct, had you left out the comparisons with the concept of ``Free Software'' in its entirety.

There is a very specific term in vogue for software which comes free of cost - ``FREEWARE''.

``Free Software'' is software which assures users of their freedoms, and the term ``free'' in ``free software'' means ``free as in freedom''.

In fact, people can, (and do) charge money for free software; please see

Also, please see the section titled ``How is `OpenSource' related to `Free Software' '' on

Another grave inaccuracy in your article is about ``it all starting with Linux''.

I hope this link will provide with adequate information.

With Warm Regards, Mahesh.

-- Mahesh T. Pai <<>> ``Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty''

1 Should have been ``..viewed with much resepct ...''

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