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Open source versus free software

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memenode's picture
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Joined: 2004-07-12

Hah.. this is something that may tickle, but may be a foundation for a healthy discussion, i think so.

As i know it (and i probably should) open source as a movement and as a name came to the scene in 1998 trying to present 'free software' concept to the business-es which feared the term 'free software' thinking that by adopting that concept they'll have to provide their products completely free.
The term open source was therefore coined to avoid the term 'free' software relying it to another 'fact' about free software concept and that is the openess of the source code.
While this iniciative was succesful bringing alot of businesses got into the game of free software, free software foundation with Richard M. Stallman on top as the founder of free software movement didn't and still don't support and encourage the use of term 'open source' because it hides the main principle this movements is all about and that is freedom!

Today, the term open source is very popular and it is harder to say it refering to something else than free software, while saing free software may be refering to freeware or even shareware for free download which is actualy not 'free software'.

What term do you prefer? What do you think about the whole issue?

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Re: Open source versus free software

Well, you pretty much said everything...

The defination of Open Sourced Software is that the code is freely available to all for free...

But free software does not nececarily mean so...

memenode's picture
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Re: Open source versus free software

Yes.. more to that.. free software doesn't nessecerily means free OF COST, but it has to provide freedoms to run, share, copy and modify.
The difference between the two terms open source and free software is that open source focuses more on practical and technical beneficions in regard to such approach to software development, while free software movement from which open source originated is still more about ethical issue of freedom for which software should be free, but free as in speech, with those four freedoms satisfied.

Basicaly, i like the term 'free software' because of that more, since that is the beauty of it, freedom!
I however use the term 'open source' just because it seems to be more recognizeable and most popular and it also doesn't have an ambiguity problem.
In the end, i consider the community's of both movements as one big community, since it actualy is that. It is open source/free software community.

Thank you for reply!
Daniel

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Re: Open source versus free software

The problem of lots of free software is the Spy-ware or install some software that you not need or want like a browser bar, most "open source" not have this. But still in some cases I think "Pay software" is better like it comes with full support and you can be sure someone look into the bugs you report.

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Re: Open source versus free software

The term "free software" represents everything that the term "open source" represents in the manner of freedoms you have with it.

"Free software" is not freeware or shareware which may sometimes come with spy-wares etc. Free software is pretty much the same as open source software.

Freeware, no matter of it's name, is not free by the definition of "free software" because you don't have the freedom to modify (source is closed) and in many cases you are not permitted to re-distribute (only for private usage).

This discussion is actually about the differences between two terms and according movements (free software movement and open source movement) which are very similar, often understood and taken as same, but still have some differences.
You can find more on it here.

Daniel :-)

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Re: Open source versus free software

After thinking about this quite a bit, we decided to with the term 'Software Freedom', which empasises the freedom aspect without confusing it with zero-cost. Also, since it is neither exactly 'Free Software' nor 'Open Source', there is a chance that the term might be acceptable to both movements.

- Henrik
(of softwarefreedomday.org)

memenode's picture
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Re: Open source versus free software

Welcome Henrik! I am happy to have you on our site. It's odd that i just though of inviting you guys from softwarefreedom.org over to this site and then i connect and here you are. :-)

Indeed, the term software freedom speaks it loudly and i certainly do accept it. Only it should be spoken as "freedom software" instead of the reverse order of course. Wink

Free software can then be actually understood as short from freedom software and that's what we actually want to achieve. Many people understand the word "free" as "gratis" because they are used to it in this world that runs in the terms of "for free" or "for money", but the same as public came to understand this word primarily as "gratis" we can influence them to come to understand it in terms of freedom. Everything is achieveable. And the term "freedom software" is a great way to do this. I believe Richard Stallman would agree to that. It's the freedom that is of the most importence in the free open source software movement and not the fact of software being free of cost or simply it's source code being open. The term "open source" is very much flawed in this matter because it hides "freedom". That's why i stand firm in my support for "free software" or "freedom software" instead.

Thank you for joining Henrik! :-)
Daniel

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