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

Christian Einfeldt einfeldt at earthlink.net
Fri Apr 22 21:02:56 PDT 2005


> >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.
> It's not that - it's that we should try to avoid using divisive
> language.  Any term that you have to be "in the know" to
> understand will alienate novices.  Not everyone receiving mail on
> this list, or any other one you might post on, is an experienced
> user.  Newbies who may be on the list won't know what the heck
> you're talking about.

Wow, I didn't realize that there were newbies on this list.  I 
thought that this list (except for me) was mostly ultra hackers.

> Heck, until recently I didn't know what FLOSS was, and I've been
> using open source software since before Linux was a twinkle in
> Linus's eye.


> Even "OSS" is somewhat divisive, as people may have heard of
> "open source" but not seen that acronym.

So let me just ask this question out of total ignorance, then, as I 
have not been paying all that much attention to the customs on this 
list.  Do most people write open source or OS or OSS, or what term 
do most people use.  

Same question for GNU/Linux or Linux.  What term do most people on 
this list use?

Also, is this list archived?  Is it possible to browse the archives 

> Richard Stallman is a genius in a lot of ways, but marketing was
> never one of them. 

+1  He probably wasn't really thinking about marketing at all.  He 
probably had no idea how huge software libre was going to get.  In 
Linus' first posting about Linux, he also said that it was just a 
hobby, and never thought it would take off like it did.  

> Which is exactly why "free software" 
> languished in the obscurity of academia for at least a decade
> before "open source" came along and started being understood by
> the mainstream.
> >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.
> Thomas Jefferson (Richard Stallman) wrote the Declaration of
> Independence (GNU Manifesto); but he wasn't the only Founding
> Father.

Heh.  I love that.  I will remember that.  Great analogy. 

> >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.
> Sure, give him credit for GNU, which was a necessary but not
> sufficient condition for open source's popularity.

Also a good way of putting 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.
> As I understand it, you are creating a documentary film.  So I
> would suggest you view it not like a juror who must choose, but
> rather as a reporter who must present different sides of a story,
> and let the viewer make up their own mind.

Actually, I personally am thinking of trying to avoid the question 
and just touch on it briefly, since Rev OS and The Code did such a 
good job of discussing those things.  But the Digital Tipping Point 
film is being worked on by lots of people on many levels, and so it 
will reflect lots of different people's inputs.  Discussions on 
this list will also shape the final product.  

> >> [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.
> It may save keystrokes in the short run, but not if you keep
> having to explain it to people!  You've spent many orders of
> magnitude more keystrokes in this thread than you ever would have
> by typing "open source" in the first place, instead of "FLOSS."

Heh.  That's for sure.  Although I was anticipating that this list 
was primarily just high level hackers who were familiar with the 
term.  So I will be interested to hear what people have to say 
about the conventions for language usage here on this list. 

Oh, one other question while I'm at it.  Do we have an idea how many 
people are subscribed to this list? 

> >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.
> Borrowing words only happens when we have a need for a new word
> for something.  We don't have a new need for a new word for open
> source.

That depends on who you mean by "we".  If this list is mostly 
English speaking "open source" types as opposed to English speaking 
FSFers or Spanish speaking penguinistas, then you are correct.  
Which is why this conversation is useful for me.  It will be 
interesting to for me to learn a bit more about the demographics 
and conventions of this list.  

Up until now, I thought that this was a relatively small group of 
very sophisticated kernel hacker types, based on my limited 

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