DRAFT FAQ: Free vs. Open

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Jan 10 03:33:36 UTC 2008

Quoting Ernest Prabhakar (ernest.prabhakar at gmail.com):

> Well, I've given it my best shot (below), incorporating the various  
> points that have been raised.  Feedback? Suggestions?

1.  Taken as a whole, I think your draft ends up somewhat overstating
differences, by failing to stress that the two concepts, as criteria for 
licensing and software, map to substantively the same territory.  (The
only differences in licence-evaluation are trivial, for reasons John
Cowan cited separately.)

2.  I think it's a bad idea to omit DFSG (Debian Free Software Guidelines) 
as a criterion for free software.  Anyone who's tried to apply the Four
Freedoms guidelines consistantly and rationally in real-world situations
(other than, well, Richard) can tell you why: they're too highly

3.  Again, kindly take the coinage "FLOSS" out and shoot it -- to put it
out of our misery.  It would be horribly ironic for OSI to adopt a
marketing failure even worse than the ones that prompted its formation
in 1998.

> Philosophically, the term "free software" is often associated with an  
> ideological position on how software should be available, whereas  
> "open source" more commonly reflects a pragmatic concern regarding how  
> software should be developed. 

Does the OSI Board endorse this view?  I think it's dead wrong, and is
likely to alienate people like me, who get very tired of being told that
we lack moral principle and are motivated solely by pragmatism, just
because we are license-discuss regulars.  In writing this, you are
essentially promoting a cartoon view of OSI, one that I for one
particularly dislike.

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