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

Christian Einfeldt einfeldt at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 18 20:55:29 PDT 2005

On Sunday 17 April 2005 16:39, Rick Moen wrote:
> Christian was replying to Bill Ward:
> > 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.
> Christian, the problem is that you _aren't_ doing that, when you
> say "FLOSS".  You're not talking about freedom at all; you're
> just using an opaque and rather silly-sounding acronym.  You
> _think_ you're talking about freedom because of an abstract and
> essentially symbolic association with the concept.  Which, IMVAO,
> tends to shoot your intention in the foot.

So it is starting to be my impression that using the F in FOSS is 
not popular on this list.  I'm easy.  I can drop it on this list.

> You said, in a separate message, "When we talk to [new users]
> whose primary language is English, let's call it open source."  I
> concur ;-> -- except that I tend to include references to free
> software as soon as they're "getting" the concept.

+1   This actually is a very good point, and it is one of the 
reasons that I am not very religious about using the F in FOSS.  To 
me, the code teaches freedom.  And people who use OSS get the 
importance of freedom.  It was for that reason that I wasn't 
particularly sold on the notion of using the F in FOSS until that 
wake up call with the guy on the OOo list who called Richard 
Stallman a "little GNU-phile."  I really found it shocking that he 
didn't even know Richard's name.  Geez, Richard and the FSFers 
deserve attribution, at the very least.  

When our camera was not running, Ted T'so said that he felt that 
Richard was claiming more credit than he deserved.  So I know that 
there are lots of tribal elders who don't agree on this issue.

However, for someone like me, who has contributed absolutely no code 
at all, I think that it is proper to show some respect for someone 
like Richard.  IMHO, it's a far different thing for Ted T'so to say 
something like that than for me to say it.  

In jury trials, jurors are constantly having to decide which of two 
opposing experts are correct.  I feel as if I am somewhat in the 
same position.  Fortunately, I don't have a binary choice here, and 
so I like being able to be something of a very minor ambassador 
between various different camps.  IMHO, if we can share code, we 
can share credit, too.  

> [Stallman story snipped]
> > So ever thereafter, I began to increase my use of the "F" part
> > of "FOSS" or "FLOSS" as appropriate.
> See, I see the point of talking about freedom.  But I don't see
> the point of "FLOSS".  (Among other things, it doesn't talk about
> freedom.)

It's mostly about saving keystrokes.

> > 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.

> (Afterthought:  Why _would_ "OSS" placate FSF types, anyway?  Are
> they supposed to be happy that you didn't say "open source" and
> ignore what the acronym stands for?  I confess I don't get it.)

Richard Stallman has actually made a compromise, although people 
don't recognize it as a compromise, probably because they are not 
accustomed to Richard making a compromise.  He has said that he 
doesn't mind FLOSS.  

I think that we need someone like Richard continually talking about 
freedom.  I do believe that it we are only practical, we will end 
up seeing the freedom of open source get chipped away at little bit 
by little bit.  Having corporate support of open source is good, 
but you need to pick your friends wisely, and keep them on good 
behavior.  Jack Messman is in our film, as are Miguel de Icaza and 
Nat Friedman, and I am really grateful to those guys and SuSE and 
Novell for all of the things that they have done for OSS.  However, 
it is soooo easy for corporations to overreach, due to the pressure 
that is on the execs to maximize the shareholder value in the 
company.  Wall Street really is brutal in its evaluation of 
companies, and that can sometimes cause execs to exercise bad 
judgment, at least as seen from the perspective of the OSS 
conglomeration we call the community. 

> > 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."
> As noted, luckily they don't have the linguistic free vs. free
> problem we gringos suffer.  If _visiting_, I'd no doubt call it
> "software libre", too.
> But, at home, short of us all switching to a Romance tongue, we
> have to deal with Anglo-Saxon imprecision.  ;->

Actually, there are lots and lots of "foreign" words that have crept 
into English, German, French, Thai, etc.  I'm thinking that 
eventually, software libre might make it in.  Who knows.  
> > 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.
> Heh.  One could do as the Israelis do, and say "La breyut" = "to
> your health" -- which of course is close cognate to English's old
> borrowing from German, "Gesundheit."  (I believe the Yiddish
> variant is "sei gesunt", "be healthy".)

I think that I actually might have said Gesundheit.  Is Richard 
Jewish?  Maybe I should have thought of sei gesunt.  He actually 
said, though, I don't need to say anything.  He said it was a 
superstition.  All of this is on film.  

> But that brings me to a point I wanted to make:  Sure, it's good
> to acknowledge that choice of words is very important -- but,
> beyond a certain point, one must master the words rather than
> letting them (or, worse, someone else's fixations about them)
> master _you_.  

Yeah, but I don't feel as if I am in peril of going to that extreme.  

> Anyhow, if Richard objected to my saying "Bless you" on grounds
> that "nobody needed to bless him", I'd say it was just a polite
> expression of concern and that the notion of a big guy on a cloud
> hadn't really crossed my mind.  If he replied that he thought I
> should purge religious-tinged phrases from my vocabulary, I'd
> rejoin, as politely as I could manage,  1. That's a rude request,
> and none of your business, and 2. Good luck with a
> language-reform project that's ultimately hopeless, for reasons
> cited above.

Well, I felt that there are lots of demands on Richard's time, and I 
thought that it was genuinely generous of him to give us time.  
Again, I don't mind being a bit deferential to Richard.  I believe 
that I could live my life 10 times and never make the kind of grand 
contributions to humanity that Richard has.  I do truly believe 
that Richard is a bit like Darwin, except with bad manners.  Heh.  
He will be remembered for a hundred years, at least, long after I 
and everyone in my family have been forgotten.  That, in itself, is 
no reason for being deferential to someone.  I can think of a few 
very unsavory people who will also be remembered that long.  

However, I believe that history will be kind to Richard, and so I 
don't mind showing him the respect that he really does richly 
deserve WHILE HE IS ALIVE, rather than merely after he is dead, 
like Van Gogh.  

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