[R] S-PLUS 8 beta program [repost]

David Smith dsmith at insightful.com
Fri Mar 31 22:40:27 CEST 2006

eugene dalt [eugenedalt at yahoo.com] writes:
> It seems to me that Insightful is very good at
> protecting whatever they "create" and the same time
> feels very comfortable taking R stuff to keep they
> clients happy. In essence they are selling free stuff.

I must defend Insightful on this point. As an employee of Insightful, that's
to be expected, but I've also been an author of free software since the
earliest days when the term "free software" was in use ... but more on that,

In no sense are we "taking R stuff" with these improvements in S-PLUS 8.
Packages written for R will remain free, as they must.  This isn't just
because the license says so, but because we believe that an open-source
community around packages that will run with both S-PLUS and R is a good
thing.  It's good for S-PLUS users, certainly: we've heard loud and clear
from our users that they need a better way to package user-contributed
libraries for S-PLUS, and they need access to the cutting-edge, quality
statistical software available in the open-source world.  But it's also good
for the statistical computing community generally.  In the open source spirit
of "many eyes", the more people using and improving open source software,
from both the S-PLUS and R communities (or, generally, the S community), the

You say, "In essence they are selling free stuff."  I say, au contraire.
First of all, the distinction between "free-as-in-speech" and
"free-as-in-beer" is important here, and it's the former context that is
generally meant in reference to "free software".  (For further background on
this, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_as_in_beer and

As it happens, the free-as-in-speech packages we're porting to S-PLUS will
also be available free-as-in-beer from an Insightful-hosted site.  In fact,
as part of the S-PLUS 8 project we've put significant investment into making
free software available to a wider community.  We put packages though the
same test that CRAN does, and as we find and fix bugs in the porting process,
we're contributing those back to the community as open-source.  We're also
planning to provide an new package for both S-PLUS and R, as a further
contribution to the community. 

Personally, I'm very excited about this new role for Insightful as a member
of the open-source community.  Ultimately, it's only through our actions that
our sincerity will be judged.  All I ask is that those actions are be
characterized faithfully.

# David

David M Smith <dsmith at insightful.com>
Senior Product Manager, Insightful Corp, Seattle WA
Tel: +1 (206) 802 2360
Fax: +1 (206) 283 6310

Insightful Corporation (www.insightful.com) provides analytical solutions for
text and data using S-PLUS, Insightful Miner, InFact and consulting services.

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