That’s what New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia said back in 1934. Not
many people understood the meaning or the impact of Mayor LaGuardia’s
statement, because he said it in Latin. (“E finita la cuccagna,” said the mayor.)
But today, most people agree with the spirit of LaGuardia’s proclamation.
Well, they’re all wrong. I have two stunning examples to prove that there is
such a thing as a free lunch.
I’m the faculty representative to the Dining Service Committee at Drew
University. During the regular academic year, the committee meets once
every two weeks. We meet in the university commons to evaluate and
discuss the dining facilities. As a courtesy to all committee members,
lunch is free.
Open source software doesn’t cost a dime. You can download it, use it,
modify it, and reuse it. If you have questions about the software, you can
post your questions for free in online forums. Usually someone answers
your question quickly (and for free).
Many people shy away from open source software. They think open source
software is unreliable. They believe that software created by a community
of volunteers is less robust than software created by organized business.
Again, they’re wrong. The open source Linux project shows that a community
of volunteers can rival the effectiveness of a commercial software
vendor. And some of my favorite Windows utilities are free for download
on the Web.*
This harangue about open source software brings me to one of my favorite
subjects: namely, Eclipse. When you download Eclipse, you pay nothing,
nada, zip, bupkis, goose egg, diddly-squat. And what you get is a robust,
powerful, extensible Java development environment.