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

Mat Witts admin at
Tue Nov 21 12:45:48 UTC 2017


> whether someone talks about Free Software or Open Source is not a good
indicator of where on this political spectrum they fall.

Well, a person can 'talk about' socialism and about 'the right'from any
perspective, for sure.

But what a person chooses for themselves I think does tend to regulate
the WAY they talk about those things, and WHAT they say about them too.

A centrist position, is not the same as a neutral position.

It's possible to hold socialist or right-wing positions without
insisting people think the same way.

Counterwise, it's possible to hold out a centrist position in a
rhetorical way, perhaps to try and convince other people, or other
people within the FSFE ought to think the same way.

The problem with silencing the debate on the demarcation between Open
Source and Free/Libre is that it camouflages what can be a non-neutral
centrist politics which tends to invite corporate involvement that may
not be, strictly speaking coterminous with thinking in Free Software

The difference between incentives to produce either Open Source or
Free/Libre ought to be enough to remind us that the cultures informing
those ideas are very different, as perhaps are the outcomes in many cases.

The FSFE ought I think to be unequivocally on the side of Free Software,
and I think it is.

The possible weakening of this is when we start to see Open Source as
being part of the same movement, which it might be or it may not be.

The point is, it is possible to easily identify Free Software because it
will have certain features that other development paradigms don't offer.

The problem with 'Open Source' is that is may also be Free, but it may
also be proprietary, and that should tell us all we need to know about
the problems with thinking Open Source is in the same family as Free/Libre.

In a similar way, a cuckoo is a bird, just like a warbler - but it seems
to me that Open Source is very much like the cuckoo in the warblers nest
of free software, it seems to benefit from all the positive benefits
from being part of a happy family, but it can outgrow it's siblings and
exhaust the parents and in any case, it's a very different bird when it

People that promote Free Software know about what that means, people
that promote Open Source may or may not, so whereas a Free Software
advocate is obviously committed to (at the very least) ideas of
communitarian living, an Open Source advocate is likely to be either 1)
Confused; 2) Pro-business - which at the very least means pro-capitalism
and centrist or right of center on the political spectrum; 3) Both
confused and pro-business

This much at least I think we can say, so as a rule of thumb the
critique of political allegiances between the two seems useful, at least
on a broad/macro scale of social analysis.

/ mat

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