[sf-lug] license count != software popularity (Re: [Balug-Talk] Open Source less popular than Free Software)

Michael Paoli Michael.Paoli at cal.berkeley.edu
Wed Sep 26 04:34:53 PDT 2007

[yeah, don't send/reply to lists one can't post directly to ... tends to be
discourteous and annoy the list maintainers/moderators]

license count != software popularity

I could programatically generate N distinct licenses, where N is a
sufficiently large number, author a piece of software, and simultaneously
release it under all N licenses.  I could also programatically
generate M distinct pieces of software, again where M is a sufficiently
large number, and release every M piece of software each under N
distinct licenses each.  The larger(/largest) number of
licenses covering the software, and even count of released software,
however, would not necessarily correlate at all to the popularity of the

Installed base and use of installed base of software, or statistical
approximations thereof, are typically better measures of a software's
popularity.  Of course, again, one may need to excercise appropriate
care in how the counting is done (if I could exceedingly cheaply
create a very large number X of computers, and simultaneously install
on all of them ...)

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
 - Benjamin Disraeli

Quoting Asheesh Laroia <asheesh at asheesh.org>:

> (Pardon the cross-posting.  If you reply, take care to only reply to a 
> list you are subscribed to!)
> I wrote up a small program and a web page about it to answer the question for
> me: "Are more licenses approved by the Free Software Foundation, or instead
> by 
> the Open Source Initiative?"  Here is a summary [0] of my findings:
>      * Licenses approved by FSF alone: 51
>      * Licenses approved by OSI alone: 43
>      * Licenses approved by both: 16
> Here's a fact, if you believe my results: There are more "Free Software" 
> [per FSF] licenses than "Open Source" [per OSI] licenses.
> >From this, one can extrapolate all sorts of interesting flamebait.  I'll 
> start; hopefully (since these are discussion liss) you all can help 
> further fan the flames.
> "Open Source is less popular than Free Software."
> "The Free Software community is more welcoming of outsiders to its community
> than the Open Source community."
> "The problem is not Open Source license proliferation, it is Free Software 
> license proliferation!"
> Full results at http://www.asheesh.org/note/software/osi-vs-fsf.html . That
> link includes source and data adequate to reproduce my findings.
> -- Asheesh.
> 0. http://www.asheesh.org/note/software/osi-vs-fsf-summary.html

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