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Free kittens, author thereof…

Sweet Little Open Source KittyI’ve had several emails/IMs today asking me if I’m the origin of the phrase “free as in free kittens” (with respect to open source software). Apparently it came up in a talk today and several people wanted to defend my honor (good luck with that).

The origin of the phrase is actually Eric Lease Morgan… I don’t recall hearing him use that expression, but I heard Marshall Breeding use it, and asked him, and he sent me to Eric, who was far too gallant or at least did not seem all that interested in protecting his property rights for this expression (perhaps Eric has a life?).

I may be better known for saying it (“unknown but sage?” ok, I prefer that to “well-known idiot”), and I aver I am the author of  “free beer versus free kittens” (as in, “for most of us, Firefox is ‘free beer'”). But give Eric (a quieter kind of guy) the nod for the coinage.

Recommended usage for presentations is to select the smarmiest cat image or photo you can find — extra points for big eyes or cutesy poses, the kind of pictures you’d find in dreary government offices, usually festooned with tag lines such as “God don’t make no mistakes” or “Is it Friday yet?”

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