[GRASS5] Terminology: Free Software

Bernhard Reiter bernhard at intevation.de
Tue Oct 9 13:26:15 EDT 2001

Hello Developers,
as you know I am a bit the license and Free Software counsellor
of the GRASS-project. This is the same activity that I do
professionally with my company Intevation.

Recently it occurred to my that most GRASS documentation
talks about "Open Source" instead of "Free Software".
I suggest that we change it to Free Software were appropriate
to lower the chance of missunderstandings.

Let me explain more:

I am fully aware of the long detailed debate about these terminology
issues. As scientists most of us is clear that it is important, though.

Especially in the last year the term "Open Source" is more and more
seen disadvantagous for several reasons. 
First of all it was invented as a marketing term for Free Software in 1998
(check http://www.opensource.org/advocacy/faq.html)
One of the big personalities behind was Bruce Perens.
They wanted to trademark the term.
As a trademark could not be obtained missuse of the term
started to grow everywhere, based on the assumption that 
source code you can look at is enough. Often freedom to modify or
use the source was not granted with what companies called "open source".

After 1.5 years Bruce Perens noticed and left the campaigne with a
note on "Why it is Time to speak about Free Software again",
and since then people have returned more and more to call it 
"Free Software" again.

Companies like Alcove for instance only talk about Free Software or
the equivalent Frensh term ("logicals libre")

It is also my personal experience that I can explain Free Software
to users and company officials much easier. 
Once people have understood that "free" stands for
freedom (and their freedom to speech, learn, use, compete) they are 
thinking along the right track. "open source" takes me a long time,
because I also have to start talking about development models
("open source" is often mixed up with the "bazzar" or open
development model.) and then introduce the freedoms you need from
a license again to make myself clear.

To sum up again: I think we should mostly talk about GRASS as Free Software
and might add a notice at some (rare) places explaining that: 
some people call Free Software more missleading "open source".
One link explaining this the relation: 

"In practice, nearly all software meeting one definition also meets
the other." 

Note that his remark about the FSF are missing latest information
that the official sister organisation in Europe, the FSFE
sees the term "Free Software" as stressing long term benefits (even
the benefits for companies) of Free Software opposed to short term benefits.

Professional Service around Free Software                (intevation.net)  
The FreeGIS Project                                         (freegis.org)
Association for a Free Informational Infrastructure            (ffii.org)
FSF Europe                                            	  (fsfeurope.org)
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