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

Heiki Lõhmus repentinus at
Tue Nov 21 17:55:45 UTC 2017

On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 12:45:48PM +0000, Mat Witts wrote:
> 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

You are projecting your own political beliefs onto everyone in the Free
Software movement. My preferred term is Free Software because I believe
individual freedom to be the highest political goal or utility and Free
Software safeguards every individual's freedom and control over their
devices. I have no communitarian leanings beyond recognizing that
cooperating in communities is a valid exercise of any individual's
freedom of association, and I am decidedly pro-business as a valid
exercise of individual freedom too.

The Free Software definition says nothing about the way Free Software
should be developed. The definition is not pro-communitarian or
anti-business, and hence any movement based on promoting the definition
is not pro-communitarian or anti-business either or it has already

While I prefer the term Free Software, I also recognize that in the
vast majority of cases contributions from people whose preferred term is
Open Source also lead to increased individual choice and control over
their device. This is true of contributions from large corporations too,
and where any particular user disagrees with the corporation's
direction, they are free to fork the project. Less complaining and more
use of the four freedoms would be entirely appropriate in such cases.

Heiki Lõhmus
Vice President
Free Software Foundation Europe
mailto:repentinus at
xmpp:repentinus at
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