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

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Sep 26 13:44:59 PDT 2007

[I'm on both mailing lists.  Please trim from the To: roster any list
you're not personally on, if replying.]

Quoting Chris Waters (xtifr at debian.org):

> So where do the Debian Free Software Guidelines fit into all of this?
> It's called "Free Software", but it's basically the same terms as the
> OSD.

I've suggested on debian-legal that Debian Project amend DFSG to include
something substantially the same as OSD#10, "Licence must be

> Anyway, who decided that the OSI was the arbiter of open source or the
> FSF the arbiter of free software?

OSI for all practical purposes invented the concept within the software
context, and in any event has consistently been its defining and
promoting body ever since.  It think they more than earned that right  
(Two or three prior isolated mentions can be found in various Internet
archives, by individuals who _arguably_ voiced the term in the same
sense and context, but never went anywhere with it.)

FSF's historical primacy is of course less clear, since BSD/MIT
exaemplified the concept before its founding, but certainly they have
_a_ leading definition of free software (the "four freedoms") which
albeit a bit fuzzy is not significantly at odds with other candidates,
e.g., DFSG.

> The Debian project makes up its own mind....

Well, package maintainers make up their mind, and are advised by Policy
to consult the sundry people on debian-legal, but are free to consider
them wackos and ignore advice thus gained.  The ftp-masters make up _their_
mind, and can potentially override maintainers.  An NMU might embody 
one maintainer making up his mind about another maintainer being a
wacko.  The Technical Committee can make up the Debian Project's mind in
some senses, as can a passed General Resolution, or decision of the DPL
or a deputy.

One could call that "mind", but in my view it's more like ganglia. ;->

, and may or may not care what you call it.  However, as evidence
> of the popularity of the term open source, I will note that popular
> alt-rock bank The Smashing Pumpkins recently announced their new (and
> arguably mislabeled) "open source taping policy":
> http://www.archive.org/details/SmashingPumpkins

What you're doing, here, is something open source / free-software people
do frequently, and it's fortunately more endearing than exasperating:
It's called "ignoring context".  _Naturally_ the term "open source" has
various other meanings in other contexts, some of them rather old.  You
could also have mentioned the intelligence (spying) community's notion
of "open source", for example.

> This message written using Emacs on a system that doesn't have any
> GDFL-with-invariant-section documentation installed. :)

Good for you.  This reply is written on a Debian system comprising only
packages from the main collection.  ;->  (Well, I build leafnode 2.0beta
locally, but it's DFSG-free, too.)

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