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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] ethical edtech edit-a-thon

From: Aaron Wolf
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] ethical edtech edit-a-thon
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2019 21:40:20 -0700

There's a bunch of confusion going on here.

Free/libre includes all freely licensed works, even when GPL incompatible.

GNU itself hosts a list of specifically FREE/LIBRE licenses that are
accepted as such despite the downside of being GPL-incompatible.

As far as trying to talk about these topics in general, I suggest the
use of FLO (Free/Libre/Open), as discussed at

This isn't about a *wider* set as free/libre covers the set just fine.
The issue is just about acknowledging the existence of "open" both for
its own values and simply to not confuse people who think that "open
source" refers to a really different set of software (it does not, the
sets are NEAR unity with only obscure edge-case distinctions).

On 2019-03-12 8:45 p.m., Nathan Schneider wrote:
> Ugh, sorry. My kid's sickness is creeping through my brain! I mis-wrote.
> Free/libre = GPL compatible
> Open source = GPL compatible + GPL incompatible open codebases
> And I think the fact that some software in there that is GPL compatible
> is not categorized as free/libre is simply a mistake in an early project.
> It may be in the end that dropping "open source" altogether is the right
> thing to do. We're starting with a wide net, with the goal of refining
> the process as we go.
> I am aware about the horrible hyperlinks. I have complained about that.
> But it is inescapable on my university's email system.
> Thanks for your suggestions!
> Nathan
> On 3/12/19 4:52 PM, Dmitry Alexandrov wrote:
>> Nathan Schneider <nathan.schneider@Colorado.EDU> wrote:
>>> On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 11:08 AM Dmitry Alexandrov <> wrote:
>>>> Erin Glass <> wrote:
>>>>> I'm writing to let you know about the 'Ethical Ed Tech 
>>>>> wiki
>>>> ...the first thing that strikes in the eye ... is a tag cloud with 
>>>> distinct categories for ‘free/libre’ [1] and ‘open source’ software [2].  
>>>> What definitions of that terms do you use, so this is required?  ...fine 
>>>> yet vague categorizations tend to be faulty.
>>>> Actually, the wiki in question already features ‘open source’ yet _not_ 
>>>> ‘free/libre’ Atom, CommentPress, Pandoc, Omeka, GitLab, Hypothesis and 
>>>> LibreOffice, with no examples of the opposite.
>>> I would think of "open source" as everything that's GPL compatible plus 
>>> non-free licenses.
>> Er?  Sorry, it seems that my English is not good enough to grasp it.
>> ‘Open source’ programs are programs that are under GNU GPL-compatible terms 
>> and (union) programs that are nonfree?  That is LaTeX is not ‘open source’, 
>> while Microsoft Word is?  No, that’s nonsensical.  Next.
>> ‘Open source’ programs are programs that are at the same time GPL-compatible 
>> and nonfree?  No, that’s empty set.
>> ‘Open source’ programs are programs that available either (as an option) 
>> under terms of a GPL-compatible free licence or some nonfree licence?  These 
>> are free programs.  And again, why GPL-incompatible ones are excluded?  No, 
>> still a fishy guess.
>> Okay, I’m given up. :-)
>> In any way, that would be the most peculiar definition of ‘open source’ 
>> among _four_ others, I am aware about.  I couldn’t care less about purity of 
>> this confusing term, but is it really worth to invent another one?
>>> I agree that the distinction is tricky, and I don't love it. In fact, 
>>> originally we were planning to call this "open tech for open ed" or 
>>> something, and I happened to be in an email exchange at the time with 
>>> Richard Stallman, who objected on the "open" language, and so I set up the 
>>> open vs. free/libre distinction to avoid antagonizing anyone further.
>> To set a distinction, perhaps, is not the sure way to _avoid_ antagonizing.  
>> Rather, the other way round. ;-)
>>> I would love any suggestions about how to handle this matter better!
>> In the same way as nearly everyone do, of course.  Do not install a separate 
>> category of ‘open source’ software in any sense of that phrase.  Due to its 
>> overwhelming usage as a metonymy for ‘free’ in the anglophonic sphere, that 
>> category will became the only one really used, while ‘free / libre’ will 
>> remain neglected, thus provoking confusions about how LibreOffice, Pandoc, 
>> etc are not free.  It already went that way.
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