View Full Version : Free as in beer?

seshomaru samma
June 15th, 2006, 02:48 PM
In this and other Linux forums I see people use the expression 'free as in beer', what does it mean ? what is the origin of this expression ?

June 15th, 2006, 02:52 PM
"Free as in freedom" usually references to open source software here and means that it doesn't cost anything and you can modify it and do almost anything with it. On the other hand "free as in beer" just means that it doesn't cost you but that's it, you don't have the freedom to do anything you want with it.

I guess it came from the fact that it's easily understandable :D

seshomaru samma
June 15th, 2006, 02:55 PM
Thanks for the clarification

But it's not understandable to me. Is beer free in Finland?

June 15th, 2006, 02:58 PM
There are relatively few places and opportunities for free beer. Unfortunately. I think the phrase is meant to be a little funny.

Ray Hamilton
June 15th, 2006, 02:59 PM
This means that it is free of charge or there is no cost for it. As an expression it is used to help clarify the problem with the English word "free" which can mean several things. It is usually contrasted with the term "free as in speech" which is used to show freedom to do what we want.
"Free beer" is obviously a good thing, if you like it, and no-one will offer "free beer" without (some hidden) reason, hence the expression "there is no such thing as free beer". This is related to the phrase "there is no such thing as free lunch".
I hope this clarifies things a little! As to the history of comparing free beer, with free speech, I know nothing!

June 15th, 2006, 03:00 PM
Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_as_in_beer

June 15th, 2006, 03:06 PM
The Free Software Definition (http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/free-sw.html)


June 15th, 2006, 03:38 PM
It should be "free as a bird" unless it flies near where a bunch of hunters just have a little too much to drink (beer). Then, it would be "free as a dead meat!" :razz:

June 15th, 2006, 03:48 PM
Well, as people have explained, the purpose is to be explicit about two different meanings of the word "free" in English.

One meaning is "free as in beer" - meaning, free of charge. No money necessary. When people talk about free beer - and sadly there isn't enough of it - they mean this: that it doesn't cost money. Examples of "free as in beer" software are Adobe Acrobat Reader, Sun Java.

Another meaning is "free as in speech" - meaning, free as in freedom, being free to do as you want. Not being limited; "free as a bird". Software that is open source is "free as in speech" - you get the source, you can modify it, and basically do whatever you want with it. An example of "free as in speech" software: Ubuntu :)

seshomaru samma
June 15th, 2006, 04:04 PM
I learned something new today

June 15th, 2006, 05:44 PM
In fact, free (as in freedom) beer also exists so one doesn't rule the other one out:


June 15th, 2006, 07:07 PM
Actualy it should be "free as in free beer" and "free as in free speech". I think this way they make more sence, but are too long and eventualy got srinked.

June 15th, 2006, 07:49 PM
In this and other Linux forums I see people use the expression 'free as in beer', what does it mean ? what is the origin of this expression ?

at first I thought you were offering us free beer.

now "Free as in free beer" is a little misleading does the brewery giving the free beer also release their recipe for the free beer so we can manipulate it if needed?

June 16th, 2006, 01:05 AM
mmm beer

June 16th, 2006, 01:59 AM
Once upon a time, I received 3 free cases of beer a month; a definite perk for being employed by a brewery. After 27 years, I retired...man, I really miss the "free beer".

At least, linux is open-source...helps fill the void.