OSI enforcement?

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Wed Jan 9 05:55:17 UTC 2008

Rick Moen scripsit:

> > This large body of software, now amounting to many terabytes of code,
> > may be neutrally known as FLOSS (free/libre and open source software).
> Neutrality is _one_ of the qualities one might seek in a term that will be
> used in public relations.  Most of us would consider avoidance of
> obvious and epic PR disasters to rank several steps above that.

I wasn't proposing that the term be used, simply noting that it is in
fact in use.  Apparently the term "FOSS software" has 43 kghits compared
to only 6 kghits for "FLOSS software", so if you prefer that version of
the acronym, by all means use it.  (By contrast, "open source software"
has 17 Mghits and "free software" 238 Mghits, many of which are surely

> > However, the Free Software movement (as distinct from all of its
> > supporters) would be willing to support technically inferior free
> > software over superior proprietary software, whereas the Open Source
> > movement (as distinct from all its supporters) would not.
> I consider myself a member in good standing of both efforts, and this
> does _not_ speak for me.  For one thing, it seems to assume that one
> should engage in licence advocacy (e.g., telling people they should not
> use licences they wish to use, or should not use products they wish to
> use on account of licensing), which I do not do for a number of reasons
> including it just not working.

RMS seems to disagree with you (and me); he feels it quite appropriate
to tell people not to use proprietary software on a number of different
grounds, partly depending on which people they are.  And he is the
unquestioned ideological leader of the Free Software movement (a role
with no current counterpart in the Open Source movement, significantly).

Sometimes the two movements produce contradictory recommendations, and
then the way of the fence-sitter becomes difficult.

> I assert that I'm properly considered a member of both efforts despite
> not "opposing it", because I maintain that it's always and everywhere
> appropriate to eschew particular initiatives that simply do not work.

It is evident, though, that some proprietary software has no FOSS
counterpart, or only a technically inferior one..  In that case, do you
or do you not recommend its use?

After fixing the Y2K bug in an application:     John Cowan
        WELCOME TO <censored>                   cowan at ccil.org
        DATE: MONDAK, JANUARK 1, 1900           http://www.ccil.org/~cowan

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