Free Software / Open source concepts

simo simo.sorce at
Sat Feb 16 17:43:53 UTC 2008

On Sat, 2008-02-16 at 00:39 +0100, Michel Roche wrote:
> Le 15 févr. 08 à 21:28, Matthias-Christian Ott a écrit :
> > So what's the new perspective?
> I understand that Bogdan felt a difference in the presentation of the  
> two approaches.
> Open Source movement, if is representative of it, is  
> driven by a way of developping software as it is stated in the first  
> sentence of their website : "Open source is a development method for  
> software (...)"

Which is *very* debatable, a license definition can't really define a
development model, at most it may induce, due to some provisions about
redistribution, a certain collaborative model. But no more than that.

Unfortunately most people do not understand that a license is a license
is a license, and nothing else. It's not law, it's not a code of ethics,
it's not a development model, or a community organization model.

> The Free Software freedoms are not claimed for their philosophy, and  
> respect to the user, but presented as an efficient way to develop good  
> software.
> It's relying extensively on the fact that communities exist around  
> sofware in order for them to live, and wa could maybe say that the  
> movement is driven by those communities.
> Nothing in what has been said having to be taken as a negative  
> judgment about Open Source Initiative, but merely a statement.

Despite some false (imo) assumptions, it gained momentum, but only
because communities pre-existed, imo.

> On any gnu site, you'll be told about those fundamental freedoms given  
> (back) to the user.
> Even if in the end these all boil down to the four primary freedoms,  
> the two give us different approaches, and even philosophical point of  
> view, of Free Software.

The differences are mostly political. I do not think there is much
philosophy in the Open Source approach (therefore they claim to be

> If in my opinion I'd stick to the GNU philosophy, I have to admit that  
> the pragmatic approach of OSI ensures a better penetration in the  
> world of business. As Free Software are really growing at the moment,  
> it's not that unusual to see different styles poping up, by the way  
> showing that it's beeing appropriated by different and new people,  
> eventually philosophically far from the original idea.
> It's a kind of natural consequence of the spreading of an idea which  
> we could also observe in other areas.

Politics is all about splitting hairs, isn't it? :)
Most of the current western political parties sprung off the same ideals
generated by the french revolution, and yet they were able to polarize
and become quite different beasts.

> So Bogdan, if you want to advocate and spread Free Software around  
> you, I think the best way is yours whatever it is if it fit both you  
> and your audience ! Sounds like a zen stanza :-)
> The only things that you'll always have to repeat are those four  
> freedoms to educate people understand that the 'free' as in beer can  
> only be possible because of the 'Free' as in speech, which is the most  
> important notion.

I don't think that talking about free beer helps at all, on the contrary
I'd argue that explaining that free software is successful commercially
(often called open source in this context) and is just a saner
competitive market can help a lot (depending on the audience of course).

> Free Software can be developped by a single one, but they often live  
> better when supported by an active community after.

Better if it is a community of users, that possibly end up paying for
development one way or another. Most successful projects sustain
themselves only because the software was good enough to be adopted by
"commercial" players that start funding directly or indirectly the core
developers of the said community (with some notable exceptions).


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