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

Mat Witts admin at
Fri Nov 17 13:32:31 UTC 2017


A good reason to stay out of discussions would be if we were to consider
that we have nothing to add that could improve them. A bad reason would
be because the subject matter strains the limits of subjective human

I don't think that  J.B. Nicholson's argument rests on whether RMS said
something or not. The position is capable of being interrogated in
isolation, but it doesn't do the position any harm in quoting from a
notable source on the philosophy of Free Software that appears to
support it too.

In short, J.B. Nicholson's argument doesn't succeed or fail on whether
we believe RMS is a reliable source on some other subject matter.

I hope that much is obvious.

Open source can be analogized as being 'right wing', and free software
as 'left wing' if we accept the established nomenclature of left/right
politics with Marxism on the left and capitalism of the right. We also
need to be comfortable with the idea that a marxist critique of software
tends to emphasize 'freedom' and capitalist discourse tends to emphasize
'development'. Again while we may not wish to commit to these fairly
established and broad analogies, if we do, then it all works fine.

I am not sure I understand the demarcation between 'practical benefits'
(open source) and 'ethical underpinnings' (free software) when it is
being articulated by an idea that 'without the practical benefits, the
ethical underpinnings don’t exist either'.

Unless you are a utilitarian, or pragmatic humanist, this idea would
sound wrong. The idea that if our ethics are 'impractical' they don't
exist wouldn't fit the ontology of many world views.

I am not sure it is possible to realistically discuss nomenclature in
isolation from culture either. I think the Open Source movement has
quite a few features that differ from the FS movement, for example
connections to well-resourced, privately owned stock companies as
compared to connections to civic or social organiszations.

FLOSS is fine for presentations to a largely unsophisticated image many
audiences have of software design but it fails to fully represent the
important differences in motivations between developing free software
and open source software.

For a more sophisticated audience, FLOSS as a descriptor obviously
doesn't work because Open Source and Free designate very different
design goals and therefore, different outcomes.

/ mat

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