[GRASS5] Terminology: Free Software

Helena hmitaso at unity.ncsu.edu
Tue Oct 9 13:23:56 EDT 2001


I would like to offer a little bit different perspective - I just got home
and started to open all junk mail that we get daily. Almost all of it
has something free (those who live in US know what I am talking about).
We are so much flooded here with Free stuff as an integral part of
marketing that I just have the word FREE firmly conected in my
mind with somebody trying to sell me something (e.g. buy one get one free,
get a free gift, free issue of magazine XY, free long distance calls,
free cell phone, and so on, forever). So for me,
free connected with a product, including a software
does not evoke to be free to modify, ..., rather I am getting a sense
that somebody is trying to sell me something and hiding it with the word
free (so you get a free cell phone if you sign a two year contract for the
service or
you get a free software if you sign up with AOL).
So, without knowing what is going on between the free and open software people
and all
the bad stuff around Eric Raymond,  I really liked the term based on Open,
because it is not as pervasive and widespread marketing tool as the Free stuff.
Open software
somehow more evokes the term Open society, but all of this is strictly
my personal opinion. So while in some parts of the world and in some
changing to Free software may lower the chance of misunderstanding and it means
back to the roots of the movement, it may increase the misunderstanding
I just really resent those AOL CDs which always have the word Free on them
and when you install it you just cannot get rid of it and they keep charging
you the monthly fee.


P.S. I read some of the links and threads that you have provided - there is
absolutely no
way for anybody outside the free software community to understand what is going
on there,
so if we are going to change from Open source to free software it would require
a lot of

Reiter wrote:

> 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",
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/1999/debian-devel-199902/msg01641.html
> 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:
>         http://www.dwheeler.com/oss_fs_refs.html
>         http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html
> "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.
>         Bernhard
> --
> Professional Service around Free Software                (intevation.net)
> The FreeGIS Project                                         (freegis.org)
> Association for a Free Informational Infrastructure            (ffii.org)
> FSF Europe                                                (fsfeurope.org)
>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>    Part 1.2Type: application/pgp-signature

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