FAQ for giving lectures about Free Software

Matthias Kirschner mk at fsfe.org
Wed Jul 5 19:52:23 UTC 2006

Hi Shane,

thank you for collecting all this.

* Shane M. Coughlan <shane at shaneland.co.uk> [2006-07-05 17:38:09 +0100]:

> 6) What about questions about the difference between Free Software and
> Open Source?
> A: "The fundamental difference between the two movements is in their
> values, their ways of looking at the world. For the Open Source
> movement, the issue of whether software should be open source is a
> practical question, not an ethical one. As one person put it, "Open
> source is a development methodology; free software is a social
> movement." For the Open Source movement, non-free software is a
> suboptimal solution. For the Free Software movement, non-free software
> is a social problem and free software is the solution."
> (From http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html)

I do not believe that there are two movements; until now the arguments
for that thesis did not convince me. 

Nor would I label "Open Source" as a development methodology.  There is
the distinction Free Software / non-free Software but this has nothing
to do with the development model, which can be (more) open or (more)

> It's good to point out that "open source" is a term created to
> "re-label" (in the words of Eric Raymond) free software, and the the
> Open Source Initiative was set up as "a marketing program for free
> software." The term 'Free Software' has been used since 1983, while
> 'Open Source' only appeared in 1998.

I think this is the part you should emphasise.  The reasons why you
should use Free Software instead of "Open Source" are listed on:


> Open Source is a term that was coined because the term 'free' in English
> is ambiguous.  

Do you have references for that?  AFAIK the reason was that they did not
want to talk about freedom as they thought managers might be afraid of
the term.  Although I do not understand this considering for example the
terms "free market economy" or "free speech". 

With best wishes,

Join the Fellowship and protect your freedom!      (http://www.fsfe.org)

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