Til det første møde i vores arbejdsgruppe om fri software var der noget diskussion af, hvorfor det er bedre at tale om fri software end om “open source”, som er blevet en mere udbredt betegnelse.
Nu kunne jeg skrive en lang forklaring (og det har jeg også tidligere gjort), men FSFE har faktisk en side, hvor det forklares meget godt:
Free Software is often referred to as “Open Source.” This is a result of an attempt by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) to create a marketing campaign for Free Software.
The OSI set out to maintain the integrity of the movement and prevent abuse by proprietary vendors by introducing “Open Source” as a trademark for Free Software; but this initiative failed.
Examining the development of the Open Source Initiative after three years, it becomes apparent that the reasons to prefer the term Free Software have become even more true. Speaking of Free Software or the equivalent term in other languages offers many advantages, which we explain below.
“Free Software” is easier to understand
Although some people say that using the term “free” creates ambiguity, many languages have separate terms referring to freedom and price. In these languages, the term “free” is not ambiguous. It may be in others, including English, but in those misunderstandings can easily be avoided by pointing out that free refers to freedom, not price.
The terminology “Open Source” refers to having access to the source code. But access to the source code is only a precondition for two of the four freedoms that define Free Software. Many people do not understand that access to the source code alone is not enough. “Free Software” avoids catering to this relatively common misunderstanding.
Free Software is harder to abuse
Unfortunately many companies have started calling their products “Open Source” if at least some parts of the source code can be seen. Users buy this software believing they are purchasing something “as good as GNU/Linux” because it claims to follow the same principle.
We should not allow proprietary vendors to abuse people’s enthusiasm like this. Since the “Open Source” trademarking initiative failed, there is no way to prevent abuse of the term that becomes possible because of the aforementioned misunderstanding.
Free Software is well-defined
Experience in science and philosophy has shown that a good and clear definition is to be preferred.
The Free Software Definition of the Free Software Foundation with its four freedoms is the clearest definition existing today.
Free Software provides additional value
Unlike Open Source, Free Software provides more than just a technical model how to develop better software, it provides a philosophy. Companies can learn and profit from the philosophy and background of Free Software.
Free Software offers freedom
Free Software provides the freedoms to
- run the program, for any purpose.
- study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs.
- redistribute copies.
- improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits.
Because of these four freedoms, Free Software offers freedom to learn, freedom to teach, freedom of competition, freedom of speech and freedom of choice.