> ----- Original Mess -----
> > From: Matt Cramer
> > Look to
> > the collectively organised and enforced policy of Internet RFCs, or FREE,
> > open-source software to see the libertarian politics of cyberspace at
> > work.
> (my caps)
> the kind of free as in/goes_with free speech/free market/free lunch/buy 2,
> get one free?
"Free" as in available to the user/consumer at no direct charge. Free, open-source software is the opposite of shrink wrapped software like the Microsoft Outlook you are using. Open-source software gives you the key to open the hood of the software and see how it works - closed source software is like getting a car and having the hood welded shut. Not all open-source software is free, but many of the importants apps that have become ubiquitous to the internet are free - BIND for name resolution, sendmail for mail delivery, *BSD or linux as an OS, apache for web servers, etc.
This type of software is managed as a collective, with a "benevolent despot" or depots taking the work from contributors and merging it with official, distributed source. The scope of this varies project to project, with some being more despotic than others. People contribute to open-source software because they believe that software (and/or information as a whole) is something that can't be owned, such as Richard M. Stallman and other GNU (http://www.gnu.org) folks, believe that this kind of software provides the best avenue for using technology to protect personal liberty (PGP 2.3 - 2.6.2, Linux S/WAN, etc.), they want the "fame", or work on a project to get notable experience useful for getting a job in the field.
Further, it is possible for me to get in the "Service" business, say, being an ISP, and only sell my time and hardware (traditional capitalist 'assets') and use entirely free information, or software (as I've defined free software). Micro$oft considers Linux a viable threat to their market, and they don't know how to "compete" (in as much as what M$ does can be labeled "competing") with Linux, because it isn't a product that can be undersold. Linux gains Market share by a grassroots effort of reputation within the "community". The success of the internet proves that this collectivist model of software development not only works, but seems to work better than the traditional 50s model of software as intellectual property to be sold like it is some physical asset. Even traditional legacy behemoths like IBM have caught onto the open-source craze and have announced support for linux.
Someone commented about the shameful intellectual rights laws and how that protects "them", but it is the wrong "them". It isn't the techno-libertarians as the author seemed to be portraying "them" but the accountants cum geeks who are really just ankle-biters. The internet-frenzy on wall street is mostly fluff and there will certainly be a correction in our near future. This won't be the fault of the techno-libertarians, it is the fault of wall street and all the shrewd [exploitive] investment bankers who are adding a ".com" to their name and just trying to cash in. If and when the bottom falls out the remaining significant contribution to the technical industry will be from the open-source, free, software movement.
-- Matt Cramer <cramer at voicenet.com> http://www.voicenet.com/~cramer/ The world is weary of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians.