Why is software freedom useful, and what does it mean ?
This is a talk I gave at SANE'98 in Maastricht.
The full talk and slides are also online and available for
you to read.
Besides the moral and philosophical reasons for preferring free
software, free software enjoys many practical advantages in its
design, development, deployment, support, maintenance and reuse. Most
of these benefits are already recognised and used by the free software
community. These, and the resulting quality benefit, are now becoming
very important for the spread of free software into the nonspecialist
and business world. In this talk I shall describe these benefits and
explain how they flow from the freedom of the software. I'll then
examine what kinds of freedoms are necessary for these advantages to
operate, and what the effects of various common restrictions are on
them. Finally, I shall present a set of loose criteria which can be
applied to a particular piece of software to see if it is sufficiently
free to obtain these practical benefits (if not necessarily the moral
Ian Jackson /
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