The Freeness of Free Software

Filed under
OSS

It’s a joy to be able to download and use unencumbered software. Partly because of price. There is so much software out there and you could easily spend hundreds and thousands of dollars each year on equivalent proprietary software. Transactional costs would really slow you down if you’re always having to make purchase decisions on software that you may or may not derive long term value from.

Yes, there are trial versions, but the limited time or functionality may not be enough to evaluate the software under normal use. Or maybe you only need it for one task. Or maybe it’s not just for your personal use and you have to consider the impact of all the other parties you might want or need to use the software also to achieve your goal. Will they be willing and able to pay?

Even when the monetary price is manageable, the strings attached to non-free licenses are costs you bear, and it’s much too expensive in liberty lost. If you have one hundred pieces of proprietary software on your machine, you have one hundred entities with a say in what you do with your computer. I want my MTV and my Ones and Zeros.

Of course there are obligations in free software licenses also.

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