Last week I published a screed about software politics. I received lots of comments — thank you all for that. The responses were, for the most part, thought-provoking and invigorating. There was one comment in particular which I feel compelled to address. Several people took me to task for saying a few words about the metonymy of “the press” in the expression “freedom of the press”, but failing to explore the rhetorical implications of the phrase “free speech”, thereby failing to address (in a rhetorical context) the oft-used construction “free as in speech”. They felt this considerably diluted my argument…


Recently, I was quoted in an interview at uses this saying

I decided to stop using open source software whenever possible and use any available alternatives…

After publication, I received an inquiry asking me to explain my reasoning — and this essay is my explanation. This explanation is narrowly focused on the question of using open source software — which is distinct from my ideas on writing open source software or distributing open source software or reading open source software or modifying open source software or copying open source software. Furthermore, the using which is at issue is running it…


No GNU

Almost forty years ago, in 1985, the idea of “Free Software” was born. That is not to say that the idea of sharing software with colleagues and making source code available was born. Ten years before the GNU Manifesto and the Free Software Foundation, I worked at a cloud services company (only we called it “timesharing” back then), and in order to encourage people to use our offerings and pay us for renting computer time and disk space and network bandwidth, we curated a collection of software libraries that customers could freely use. We called it the Public Library, of…

Robert M. Lefkowitz

Software Architect, Retired

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