[conspire] What's wrong with "FLOSS" (was: Penguin Day - Demysitify FLOSS for Nonprofits)

Christian Einfeldt einfeldt at earthlink.net
Fri Apr 15 21:13:29 PDT 2005

On Friday 15 April 2005 12:44, William R Ward wrote:
> Amen.  Please use the term "Open Source" that people actually
> understand.  Zac Mutrux & Christian Einfeld, this means you.
> --Bill.

I only use the term FLOSS on lists like this, where the readers will 
understand it.  

I try to use the freedom part of open source as much as possible, 
for a couple of reasons.  

Richard Stallman showed up on the OpenOffice.org (OOo) list on day, 
asking people to call Linux GNU/Linux as he usually does.  I didn't 
say anything at first, because I wanted to see what more 
technically savvy people had to say first.  Because I am a simple 
end user, I don't really know lots of the details as to the scope 
of GNU versus Linux in the operating system.  Do you count the 
lines of code?  Do you count the importance of the various 
components?  Is the kernel more important than the GCC?  And what 
about the X windowing system, shouldn't the whole thing really be 
called GNU/LinuX to make sure due credit is given?  etc.  So I 
mostly sat on the sidelines and listened.  

But then, one of the many Windows users of OOo complained that the 
members of the list were taking "this little GNU-phile" too 
seriously!  This is someone who had been using OOo for two years, 
and still didn't know who Richard Stallman was!  I was shocked.  
Say what you will about Richard, but give him credit for being the 
visionary that he is.  He deserves greater credit than being called 
"a little GNU-phile" on an OOo list, of all things!  

So ever thereafter, I began to increase my use of the "F" part of 
"FOSS" or "FLOSS" as appropriate.  For me, the use of the "F" 
varies with context, as discussed here in this article:


So rather than repeat myself here, I'll try to summarize.  I use 
"open source" when talking with suits or newbies.  I use software 
libre when speaking with a latin-speaking person or someone who 
already knows what it is.  I use FLOSS when typing in a context 
where people will all know what FLOSS is.  If it becomes apparent 
to me that folks on this list really REALLY get bummed on hearing 
FLOSS, then I will probably end up typing OSS.  

As a side note, I've gotta tell ya that people in Latin America LOVE 
Richard Stallman.  Almost no one down there calls it "open source."  
We were filming down at the FISL conference in Porto Alegre for the 
Digital Tipping Point film, and I didn't see one person down there 
call it open source.  There were Argentinians, Chileans, Mexicans, 
Salvadorenos, etc., and even the Anglos called it "software libre" 
while they were there.  

One Argentinian woman we interviewed called Richard Stallman "god", 
which is a hilarious appellation for a staunch athiest like 
Stallman.  When we were interviewing Richard for the film, he 
sneezed, and I made the mistake of saying "God bless you" 
instinctively.  He immediately corrected me, saying, "There's no 
one to bless us, and we don't need to be blessed."  He later 
sneezed again, and once again, I habitually said, "Bless you, oops, 
I forgot, sorry" and he said, okay, you don't need to say anything 
when someone sneezed.  So the next time he sneezed, I just sat 
there and watched him wipe his hand on his pant leg after catching 
his sneeze.  

So sure, Richard is certainly very fallible, of course, as we all 
are, but IMHO, the contributions that he and other GNUsters have 
made to the overall open source movement are nothing short of 
remarkable.  Anyone who lights the kind of fire in people like 
Richard did in Spain and Latin America deserves recognition.  

But you have a point about wanting to spread OSS to as many people 
as possible.  So yes, I hold of using FLOSS for a while with 
newbies, unless they are Latinos or Spaniards, French, Italians or 
Portuguese, etc. 

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