Do you think that it's possible for Maple to ever be free software? I
suppose I should emphasise that this is "free as in freedom",
regardless of whether Maplesoft decides to keep charging money for its
use or not. Me, I don't see it happening in the near future, but I
harbour hope that it could happen for the following reasons:
1) Other success stories of free software, such as the Firefox
2) Maple, unlike the other leading brand, was built in a purely
academic environment by a community of mathematicians and
scientists who understand the need for free and open collaboration
and making resources available.
3) Much of Maple's source is already visible, with the notable
exception of the routines in the Maple kernel.
4) Maple already uses free software, such as the GNU multiprecision
arithmetic library and the GNU C standard headers, and Maplesoft
demonstrates some goodwill towards the free software community by
adhering to the license agreements of these pieces of software and
providing the source for whatever they use.
5) Maple shows a heavy influence from Maxima/Macsyma, which is now
free software. If Maxima could do it, perhaps Maple can too?
I am familiar with the phenemenon of people who have never used free
software believing it to be impossible for free software to be of
truly good quality. To those naysayers I cite SAGE, an excellent free
software package for mathematics and a possible contender for Maple,
which sadly is not very well known:
I think something drastic would need to happen before Maple could be
free (if it ain't broke, don't fix it), such as what happened to
Netscape during the browser wars before it became Firefox. I don't see
SAGE putting enough pressure on Maple just yet so that Maple too
becomes free and open source, but maybe, just maybe, SAGE or something
like it could do it.
This question is important for me, because I enjoy my use of Maple,
and soon I will be legally restricted from my use of Maple. :(
Thankfully enough, nobody ever prosecutes smalltime pirates, because
in the immortal words of Bill Gates, "as long as they're going to
steal it, we want them to steal ours", cited here:
Hence I probably will still be able to use Maple, but I'd rather not be
"stealing" anything. I'm sure I'm not the only one in this situation.
So, what do you think? Could it happen? Ever? Has there been any
deliberation about it? Could Maple be free? What do you think?