[R] What is R?

Thomas Lumley tlumley at u.washington.edu
Thu Feb 8 20:17:20 CET 2001

On Thu, 8 Feb 2001, Diego Kuonen wrote:

> Dear all
> there's something. that puzzles me about what R is :-)
>    "R is available as Free Software under the terms of the Free 
>     Software Foundation's GNU General Public License in source 
>     code form."
> (Source: http://www.r-project.org/about.html)
> But, looking at the second paragraph of the same site, you
> see this:
>    "... and R provides an Open Source route to participation in
>     that activity."
> As we all know the term "open source" means something close 
> (but not identical) to "free software". 
> So, what is R?
> It clearly seems to be "free software" and not only "open source" 
> software, or?

R is Open Source software in that it's license complies with the OSI
definition. It is "free software" by the Debian and Free Software
Foundation definitions, and is official GNU software.  No problems

As Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond (among others) have pointed out,
the difference between these concepts is one of philosophical and
marketing emphasis. The R developers, as far as I know, have no unified
view on "open source" vs "free", nor do they need one. 


Thomas Lumley			Asst. Professor, Biostatistics
tlumley at u.washington.edu	University of Washington, Seattle

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