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In a recent piece on open source software, Mark Stone writes:

Open source has two key components:

  • The right to freely modify (software libre, or "free as in speech")
  • The right to freely redistribute, including modifications (software gratis, or "free as in beer")

For programming languages, the latter is far more significant than the former. Perl provides a good example. Relatively few programmers have the skill or interest in modifying the Perl language itself, and indeed the core Perl development team isn't particularly interested in outside contributions. So while Perl happens to be open source, that fact hardly matters to the Perl community. What does matter is that the Perl interpreter can be freely redistributed, enabling developers to create and use Perl programs without restriction.

"Free as in beer" is the force that has created over 7000 modules from 4000 authors in the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network(CPAN; see Reference 2). This is the force that has created over 5000 Perl projects on SourceForge.net (See Reference 3).

However, he concludes with:

Does that make Perl the most popular language for projects on SourceForge.net? Not by a long shot. Both C and C++ have over 13,000 projects, and in a close third with 13,066 projects is Java.

But does not gives any reasons as to why this is. Do the Monks have an opinion on this?

In reply to Perl and open source by BioGeek

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