Also, on the topic of "free", there's a distinction, poorly conveyed by the English language. There's "free, as in freedom", and "free as in beer".
IMHO, that is an debatable distinction. Most things we consider or call "free" were paid for by somebody back along the line somewhere (including freedom itself).
Well, we're off into some perhaps debatable semantic distinctions, but nonetheless, that distinction is a canon in the Free Software community. (And, there's the endless debate about "Free", vs. "Open", about which you can read more, if you like, by starting with luminaries such as Richard M. Stallman (Yes, "RMS") and Eric S. Raymond (often referred to simply as "ESR"). In terms of "paid for", well, yes, in fact, sometimes there is pay involved. Many contributors to the Linux kernel, for example, do so while on the payrolls of well known companies, like IBM (Ted T'so). However, "pay" in the context of Free Software, is really a non-monetary thing. Probably, ESR explained it better than anyone else I've encountered, in his book The Cathedral and the Bazaar
. Here's a blog post
touching on the gift economy aspect. Nearly the entire book is available free online
. (And I highly recommend it)
"Free as in beer", meaning "at no charge" obviously is a time-bound thing. And if someone gives me a gift, well clearly there was a cost there at some point. But in the moment of the gift, it is free.
But with Free Software, part of what happens in the gift economy is that somebody will see a need (even if it's just a singular, personal need) for some piece of software, and just write it because he (or she) needs something that does that. But then, in acknowledgement of having the use of lots of Free Software (e.g. Linux and the GNU toolchain), that person decides to give back to the community, and releases the code under an open license. This winds up being both a pay-it-back and a pay-it-forward. And the cycle continues. Does that make it "paid for"? In a sense I suppose, except that I think most of the developers think of it more along the lines of "share and share alike".
And, particularly within the Arduino community, I think we can appreciate the distinction, since we're working on an open hardware platform. In fact, this forum is a little self-contained gift economy as well. Is the advice given by folks such as Crossroads and GrumpyMike "free"? I would say it is.
With great freedom [or beer], comes great responsibility.
So while you may give me a free beer, I may not be able to freely drink it for other reasons? Say I'm the car pool driver, etc.