OSI enforcement?

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Jan 9 07:45:56 UTC 2008

Quoting John Cowan (cowan at ccil.org):


> I wasn't proposing that the term be used, simply noting that it is in
> fact in use.

Fair enough.  I just wanted to discourage its adoption -- er, make that
"suggest its eradication"; the drawbacks seem obvious to me, but it
can't hurt to mention them.

> 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.  

That has all the same "negative marketing" consequences as "FLOSS",
evading only the accidental comedy about dental hygeine. 

No, personally, when I wish to talk about free / open-source software, I
just say "free / open-source software".

> 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).

Acknowledged -- and he's a friend of mine whom I've had as a houseguest
numerous times -- but I think it would be remiss of me to allow that 
implication that he speaks for me in that particular, as in some others,
to pass without dissenting comment.

There _are_ circumstances and ways in which letting people know about
the inherent drawbacks of proprietary code _does_ work -- and (as I hope
you'll spot as a recurring theme) doing that is equally an open-source
gesture as a free-software one.  I merely note that the particular
action you cite -- licence advocacy -- doesn't work, and is a bad idea
primarily for that reason.

> 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?

I'm really not actually trying to be coy, here, but -- the question
doesn't tend to arise.  I'd speculate that other people for whom it
does, must be going out of their way to find opportunities to comment on
other people's business, and I rarely do.  That is, I cannot offhand
recall a single occasion on which someone asked my opinion on such a
choice, nor did I volunteer it.

I _can_ say that I adopted Mozilla Communicator for Linux (as opposed to
merely playing with it) around when it hit 0.9.0 in place of proprietary
alternatives (primarily Netscape Communicator) despite it being a beta
and theoretically rather raw code, and that part of the attraction was
that it removed the final piece of proprietary code from my workstation.
I'll also add that I've on a number of occasions eschewed an entire
category of software that's available only in proprietary form (e.g.,
Google Earth and similar things, and any number of Web 2.0
contraptions), and not been willing to consider those categories until
there are open-source offerings.  Whether that's an ideological or
practical preference is a matter of perspective -- and, more to the
point, is equally an open source position as it is a free-software one.

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