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Re: [DotGNU]Re: "Open source" is not what we do here

From: Barry Fitzgerald
Subject: Re: [DotGNU]Re: "Open source" is not what we do here
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 17:48:16 +0000 (UTC)

On Mon, 25 Mar 2002, Tony Stanco wrote:

> I am a Free Software person.
> FreeDevelopers is a Free Software Company.
> DotGNU, FreeDevelopers' first major project, is a Free Software project.
> Project EGOVOS (Project E-Government Operating System), FreeDevelopers'
> second major project, is a Free Software project.
> When I use the term Open Source, I use it in the way it was originally
> intended, as a marketing vehicle to get people who are not familiar with
> Free Software to Free Software. I view the term as
> Free-Software-on-training-wheels for people who have intellectual trouble
> with the term. I do not view Open Source as a legitimate movement in
> competition with Free Software. There is only one true Movement for Software
> Freedom and it is Free Software. It started with Richard and its foundation
> rest completely on the GPL.
> Richard is the only one who understood almost 20 years ago the dangers that
> the world would face from proprietary software. It takes a special person to
> understand the threats that far in advance. It takes an extraordinary man to
> suffer the fools who ridiculed him for 20 years as he spread the word.
> Richard in my opinion will be remembered as a great man in history, because
> he is part of the modern continuation of the march of human Freedom. Many
> people are still unaware of the serious threat that proprietary software
> poses in an age of interconnected digital machines, but they are learning
> the hard way fast. The more they learn, the more important will be Richard's
> message. There is no one in Open Source that comes anywhere close to
> Richard's stature. History will be kinder to Richard than the present is,
> but that is the case with all true philosophers. The second most important
> person to the movement is Eben Moglen. He has the best legal mind I have
> seen and the courage that most lawyers lack to follow his ideals. A lot of
> the battle will be fought in the courts and in the legislatures and I have
> no doubt Eben will rise to the challenge. So we have the philosophy and the
> law covered. We just need a viable business model and the proprietary
> paradigm falls away.
> Free Software has nothing to fear from insurgent groups- whatever their name
> or whoever leads them. The intellectual capital in firmly in the Free
> Software camp, and it will prevail.
> Richard, I told you over 2 years ago in our original email exchange that the
> logical inconsistencies of what passed for Open Source principles and
> business models would fall of their own weight and that the battle
> ultimately would be between proprietary and the GPL. That time has arrived.
> We should prepare for that and trust that history will apportion credit
> appropriately where it is due.

Then why do you refuse to use the proper terminology?

I'm just curious - my view is that to have a software movement transgress
into the public mind without having the ideology that created it follow
suit is no good to anybody.  "Freedom" and "Openness" don't carry the same
psychological baggage.  To proliferate the one installs it's ideals into
the person's mind.  The first impression is often the most important.
It's not that the psychological footprint of one idealogy can't be
replaced by the other -- it's that it's much harder to do and the chances
of success are significantly less after initial ingestion of the base

I seek not to criticize you here personally, nor do I personally criticize
use of the term "Open Source".  But you must be aware of the potential
damage that this could cause.  There are some people who use it to display
their ideals and it is appropriate for them to differentiate themselves
from the Free Software community.  Many of those people do so for the very
same reasons (read: marketing) that you use above.

That's fine -- however, understand the implications.  Can they defeat Free
Software?  No - not any more than they can defeat water with a hammer.
But, while one cannot defeat water with a hammer, he/she can disturb it.
In my mind, the question is not whether FS will prevail, it's whether
we'll gain impassable market share.  Only when FS controls the landscape
(Free Software in general, not any one organization) will Freedom be
secure.  The very presence of the significant marketshare of proprietary
and "open" ideology software creates an environment that supplies a very
large hammer to forces that seek to restrict freedom.

For this reason, we seek to promote the Free Software terminology -- even
in places where people are confused or marketing aspects prohibit.
Particularly in major announcements and press releases, because the
"target" audience is not the only audience.

I myself used to refer to Open Source software -- but I have learned and
the more I have learned, the more I use the Free Software terminology.  It
is very very very important to take the ideology with us as we move on.


P.S. I'm glad to see that you decided to change the name of the
e-government distro.  Although, I'm at a loss to think of what had to
happen to make this happen. :)

P.P.S. DotGNU is a joint FreeDevelopers and FSF project.  It is composed
of people who are either members of FD, members of the FSF, or members of
neither.  To avoid confusion, one need not be a member of FD to partake in
DotGNU development.  This is to anyone who might have been confused by
this statement.

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