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ron.peterson at writes:

> On Fri, Nov 21, 2003 at 08:05:22PM -0500, Derek Atkins wrote:
>> What is your definition of "free"?
> Everyone seems to have their own personal Jesus these days.  And
> likewise with the definition of free.  It's not that complicated.  Just
> look the word up in a dictionary:

I did.  My definition is quite longer than your (or at least I'm
willing to not cut out some potentially irrelevant or complicating
definitions that don't happen to quite make my point).  However in my
case it DOES make my point..  There are many definitions of "free".

--> webster free
1. free \'fre-\ aj or;  or fre.est [ME, fr. OE fre-o; akin to OHG 
   fri- free, Gk prays gent]le 1a: having the legal and political rights of a 
   citizen 1b: enjoying civil and political liberty {~ citizens} 1c: enjoying 
   political independence or freedom from outside domination 1d: not dependent 
   on others : SELF-RELIANT 2a: not determined by anything beyond its own 
   nature or being {a ~ agent} 2b: determined by the choice of the actor or by 
   his wishes {~ actions} 2c: made, done, or given voluntarily or 
   spontaneously : SPONTANEOUS 3a: exempt, relieved, or released esp. from a 
   burdensome, noxious, or deplorable condition or obligation {~ from pain} 
   3b: not bound, confined, or detained by force {prisoner was now ~} 4a: 
   having no trade restrictions {~ port} 4b: not subject to government 
   regulation of foreign exchange  4c: not subject to restriction or official 
   control 5: having no obligations (as to work) or commitments (as to duty or 
   custom) {~ evening} 6: having a scope not restricted by qualification {~ 
   variable} 7a1: not obstructed or impeded : CLEAR {~ and open highway} 7a2: 
   not being used or occupied {waved with his ~ hand} 7b: not hampered or 
   restricted in its normal operation : LOOSE 7c: allowed to be executed 
   without interference from the opposing side {~ kick} 8a: not fastened {~ 
   end of the rope} 8b: not confined to a particular position or place 8c: 
   capable of moving or turning in any direction {~ particle} 8d: performed 
   without apparatus {~ tumbling} 9a: not parsimonious {~ spending} 9b: 
   OUTSPOKEN 9c: availing oneself of something without stint 9d: FRANK, OPEN 
   9e: overly familiar or forward in action or attitude 9f: LICENTIOUS 10: not 
   costing or charging anything 11a: not united or combined with something 
   else : SEPARATED {~ ore} 11b: NATIVE {~ oxygen} 11c: not permanently 
   attached but able to move about of accent  11d: not occurring on the same 
   syllable in all words of a linguistic form  11e: capable of being used 
   alone with meaning {the word hats is a ~ form} 12a: not literal or exact {~ 
   translation} 12b: not restricted by or conforming to conventional forms {~ 
   skating} 13: FAVORABLE - used of a wind blowing from a direction more than 
   six points from straight ahead 14: not allowing slavery 15: open to all 
   comers SYN syn FREE, INDEPENDENT, SOVEREIGN, AUTONOMOUS mean not subject to 
   the rule or control of another. FREE stresses the complete absence of 
   external rule and the full right to make all of one's own decisions; 
   INDEPENDENT implies a standing alone; applied to a state it implies lack of 
   connection with any other having power to interfere with its citizens, 
   laws, or policies; SOVEREIGN stresses the absence of a superior power and 
   implies supremacy within a thing's own domain or sphere; AUTONOMOUS 
   stresses independence in matters pertaining to self-government, but usu. 
   implies at the same time a recognition of sovereignty of a higher or 
   central power in foreign relations and policy - av
2. free av 1: FREELY 2: without charge {admitted~} 3: with the wind more 
   than six points from dead ahead {sailing ~}
3. free vt or freed;  or 1a: to cause to be free 1b: RELIEVE, RID 
   EMANCIPATE, MANUMIT, DISCHARGE mean to set loose from restraint or 
   constraint. FREE implies a usu. permanent removal from whatever binds, 
   confines, entangles, or oppresses; RELEASE suggests a setting loose from 
   confinement, restraint, or a state of pressure or tension, often without 
   implication of permanent liberation; LIBERATE stresses particularly the 
   resulting state of liberty; EMANCIPATE implies the liberation of a person 
   from subjection or domination; MANUMIT implies emancipation from slavery; 
   DISCHARGE may imply liberation or merely ejection or emission from 
   confinement or a containing that is not necessarily restraint

> Exempt from the subjection to the will of others.  That seems pretty
> plain and simple to me.  The whys wherefors and whatnot of how this
> definition has become so occluded elude me.

Because there are many other definitions, too.  Personally I like the
definition "with the wind more than six points from the dead ahead".
Granted, it's completely irrelevant to this discussion.

My point is that "free" can mean "you pay nothing", in which case
bitkeeper is free.  Or it can mean what you mean, in which case
bitkeeper is not free.  OTOH even the GPL is putting a restriction on
what you can (or cannot) do with something.

So, I'm sorry that simple (complicated?) definitions elude you.  I was
asking a reasonable question considering the fact that, how did you
put it?  "Everyone has their own personal Jesus" -- I was just
inquiring about the "personal Jesus" of the original question-asker.

Have a nice weekend.  And dont spend too much looking for your "free"
answers.  And just remember, dumb looks ARE still "free".  Here's one
for "free"dom!  And don't forget your own free will.

-derek, who is sick of self-righteousness in the OSS world.

       Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
       Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
       URL:    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
       warlord at MIT.EDU                        PGP key available

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