[OSGeo-Discuss] "Free"

Allan Doyle adoyle at eogeo.org
Mon Mar 5 11:08:10 PST 2007

On Mar 5, 2007, at 13:49, Ned Horning wrote:

> On Mar 5, 2007, at 13:26, Frank Warmerdam wrote:
>> The lack of understanding of what we mean by free just  
>> demonstrates the
>> need for additional outreach by OSGeo.
> I am still trying to get my head around the "free and open source"  
> concept.
> I've been through the Free Software Foundation site and although I  
> think the
> free software movement is great I still don't see why it can't be  
> thought of
> as a subset of open source.

The Free Software "movement" predates the organized Open Source  
movement. There's definitely overlap but I'm not sure one can be  
thought of as a subset of the other.

There are Open Source licenses that do not require all of freedoms of  
Free Software, particularly the requirement to deliver source code if  
you also deliver modifications. That effectively lets people close  
off improvements they have made to formerly open software.

I used to think the Free Software people were a bit too radical but  
I've come around to fully respecting their position. That's not to  
say that I release software under the GPL or its variants.
>> From my perspective, being more of an open source consumer than a  
>> producer,
> it seems silly to use "free and open source". It creates a good  
> deal of
> unnecessary confusion to those outside of the free/open source  
> community. It
> seems that the "free" movement focuses on the philosophical  
> differences
> which is fine but can't folks with different philosophies co-exist  
> under the
> "open source" umbrella? Aren't all of the licenses that are  
> endorsed by the
> FSF also endorsed by the "open source" community?

The FSF "can't" exist under the Open Source umbrella because they  
feel some Open Source does not guarantee Freedom over time. The Open  
Source people can't exist under the Free umbrella because they feel  
the GPL and its variants are too restrictive.

Thus, since OSGeo has both Free and Open Source projects (or  
eventually could), we use the term FOSS to embrace both. This is not  
just a Geo thing. Europeans tend to use FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source  

> As far as OSGeo outreach goes, should we use "free and open source"  
> or just
> "open source" and explain what "free" means within a definition of  
> open
> source?

We should use Free and Open Source (FOSS or FLOSS) and have an  
explanation somewhere. Now there's a job for Arnulf!

> So far it seems to be inconstantly used within OSGeo. Would it make
> sense to think of the "free 4 geo" community as the radical arm of  
> OSGeo :)

No. It's not radical. It's different.

> PS. What is the "correct" term for software that doesn't cost  
> anything but
> is closed (like MultiSpec and 3DEM)? Freeware?

Yes, Freeware.

Allan Doyle
adoyle at eogeo.org

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