Free software and open source philosophies differ sometimes with radically different outcomes

Mirko Boehm mirko at
Fri Nov 17 02:30:40 UTC 2017


I wanted to stay out of this discussion because I cannot believe that we are even having it, but it is difficult :-)

> On 17. Nov 2017, at 09:13, J.B. Nicholson <jbn at> wrote:
>> I rather see them one depending on another, meaning without Free
>> Software I doubt that the Open Source Software would have existed but
>> not vice versa and that clears almost everything.
> That is self-contradictory but begins to get into why the open source development methodology and philosophy exists. In short, open source is (as Stallman has pointed out) a right-wing reactionary counter to the free software movement. The free software social movement existed for over a decade before open source came along. Open source enthusiasts continue to try to talk about the practical benefits of free software to business without talking about the software freedom or the ethical underpinnings of the social movement.

Just because RMS said something does not mean it is true. He also once recommended that hackers should make sure their girlfriends loose their Emacs virginity. Not advice I would suggest to follow.

Open source is not right wing, and free software is not left wing. Pretty much everybody I know understands the duality of the practical benefits and the ethical underpinnings. Because without the practical benefits, the ethical underpinnings don’t exist either, right? It is just that to some people, one matters more than the other. Even the classic that the free software movement existed before open source is just smoke and mirrors, because the “movement" staid the same. It is just that people started inventing new terms for the same things to create a them-vs-us chasm. Judean People's Front vs People's Front of Judea, of sort. All we discuss here is nomenclature, not substance. 

There, I said it. I call it FLOSS in my presentations and studies because free software and open source refers to exactly the same commons body of knowledge that causes the ethical changes we want to see.


Mirko Boehm | mirko at | KDE e.V.
FSFE Fellowship Representative, FSFE Team Germany
Qt Certified Specialist and Trainer
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