Have a Beer, for Free

In the December issue of Linux Journal magazine, I wrote in the Quake 3 Article that I didn't fully understand the notion of "Free as in beer." In the next paragraph, I go on to explain what it means, and left the "I dont' get it" part as a silly view of the free beer concept. For the record, I get it. The responses I received via email, however, make me wonder if we, as a community, really do "get it."

The most common response I got was that I misquoted the free software definition, and it's supposed to be, "Free as in speech, not as in beer." The problem is that I wasn't trying to quote the definition of "free software" but rather talk about what is meant by free beer. Trust me, I didn't wrongly coin the idea of software being free as in beer. Just ask Google.

While I won't ramble on regarding the definitions and social implications of wordsmithing semantics, I will point out something that pains me as a Linux user. If we become an exclusive community that only listens to those versed in the doctrine of the FSF, and we don't remember our grass roots -- we're doomed to be an elitist group of snobs.

So while I understand (mostly) the ideas of free software, and I understand that free beer is referring to getting something for no money -- I still say it's hard to find beer for free. So come on in, sit down, and I'll buy you a beer. We can talk about how to get one for free together. And maybe frag each other in OpenArena, because that I know where to get without paying a dime. :)

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Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

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