Theresa O’Connor

Free as in kittens

We’re all familiar with free as in beer v. free as in speech, but perhaps “free as in kittens” more accurately captures the costs to organizations adopting some FLOSS projects for their own use:

[O]pen source software is repeatedly called “free” (it is “free” as in “free kittens,” not “free beer”—you still have to maintain it, and that’s where the overhead with software comes in)…

Karen Schneider, the Free Range Librarian

via Caveat Lector, via Kevin Marks

Many FLOSS projects have some kind of minimum sysadmin skillset needed to effectively install, configure, maintain, and upgrade them, yet lots of organizations lack people with such skills. To tell such groups that our software is “free as in beer” can mask the fact that they’ll most likely need to invest in serious technical help to get things up and running.