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15 July 32010 / Robin Wellner

The new Open Source

You all know the old dictum: people who say Free Software are political, ideological and tend to come across as diehards, while those who use the term Open Source are capitalist, pragmatic and morally loose. Or something like that.

But is that all there is to it?

In the real world I see something different: persons, especially young ones, who prefer the term Open Source despite they are ideologically driven, often left-wing and get angry at large companies sucking away their rights.

Granted, they may have discovered FOSS because of practical considerations: often free of charge, generally great quality, and if they have a problem, they can actually talk about it with experts, rather than people behind the phone who aren’t qualified to say anything other than “have you tried turning it off and on again?”, and if they find a bug, it might actually be fixed on the same day, without having to pay for an upgrade.

Ahem. Excuse me for that rant.

The point is, if you’re ideologically motivated, but don’t want to be seen like a pedantic old hippie, it’s your only way out. That is using the term Open Source.

It might seem sad for rms and the FSF, but it’s not. They have to accept that they are no longer the only coders caring about digital freedom, just like they have to accept that Linux is not GNU, but there is no denying the role they played, and still continue to play, in humanity’s attempts to do the right thing. And the Open Source world acknowledges that, and keeps paying Free Software the respect it deserves.

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3 Comments

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  1. qubodup / Jul 15 2010 18:33

    Free Software makes people think they know it is Freeware. If somebody tries to re-teach them, this can have negative effects.

    Open Source is a word without definition and people are easier to accept other’s definitions.

    • Robin Wellner / Jul 15 2010 19:20

      Oh, right. Of course, that’s a major reason not to use the term Free Software as well.

  2. Luiji Maryo / Jul 16 2010 0:33

    You say “just like they have to accept that Linux is not GNU”, you imply that they haven’t already. If you view their website, they make big notice that Linux is not GNU, and that people should credit them more by saying GNU/Linux when they refer to the common pairing of the Linux kernel and the GNU user land.

    Other then that, I find this article to be very correct. Personally, I prefer to say Free Software, so people know that I hate Microsoft. 😛

    In all seriousness, I actually say Free Software so people understand more so why I keep pushing the GPL. It also shows the ideologies that I have really quickly, that I care about freedom, not just source.

    :3 (That’s a thumbs up, right?)

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