Re: Thanks, and a Brief Survey


Lefty (石鏡 ) wrote:
> One further comment on this: I stand by my view that Stormy's mission
> statement should not use the terminology "free software" to the exclusion of
> the term "open source software". In fact, in light of what you've said, I
> believe I feel even a little more strongly about it:

FWIW, when I was on the board, my summary of board policy at that time was:

* When I speak for myself, I use free software
* When speaking for GNOME, use "free and open source software" - avoid
abbreviations "FOSS and FLOSS"
* Avoid using either "Linux" (except when talking about the kernel) or
"GNU/Linux" if possible - talk about GNOME itself.

It was always tricky to start talking about OSes - if you say "GNOME is
a desktop environment for Linux", you have some requests asking that you
say GNU/Linux, other requests to mention BSD, Solaris and other unices,
making the phrase awkward & long, and reducing its impact. So we tend to
avoid that particular discussion in writing.

> (I'd note in passing that, from the point of view of an "open source
> developer", "free software" is a subset of "open source software"; to a
> "free software developer", they're mutually exclusive sets.)

As a free software developer, I see them as synonyms. I identify the
freedom that we give to users as the key attribute of the software, so I
call it free software. Other people call the same software open source,
perhaps because the availability of the source is the key attribute for
them? Perhaps because it is a better known & less ambiguous phrase in

Anyway - as I say, for me they're essentially synonyms. For others,
including RMS, they're not. There are very few (I think 2 or 3) OSI
approved licences which are not free software licences also. And there
are none in the other direction - all free software licences are open
source licences.


Dave Neary
GNOME Foundation member
dneary gnome org

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