[sf-lug] mastering CDs in bulk for Software Freedom Day

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Sep 1 02:26:59 PDT 2009

Quoting Grant Bowman (grantbow at gmail.com):

> I wish I had the time to constantly confront and write rebuttals to
> almost all responses in mail list threads and effectively overwhelm
> all opposition to my "opinions."  Sharing your opinion is one thing,
> but when it's done far more vigorously...

I certainly mean no offence, and you're both entitled to your views.
(Albeit, Sameer's bit about "discrimination", etc., the sideshow about
proprietary code in ROMs, and the two ridiculous appeals to the Open
Source Definition, were a bit much.)

> What exactly do you think those things are for the Sameer and I?

I think where you choose to lavish your time and money are personal
decisions I respect.

At the same time, I offered the opinion and prediction that the
action proposed is going to be an inefficient use of those resources.  
Please consider taking that in the spirit intended:  If I didn't like
you guys, I wouldn't bother trying to help you in, IMO, avoiding wasteage.

> I understand that you think this is the most relevant question.  Other
> people have different measures of progress and impact.  While money is
> fungible, one individual's time is not fungible with another's.

Er, here you seem to be claiming to differ, but then not actually saying
anything that differs from what I said.  No complaint, but I'll admit
this is a bit confusing.

> Your opinions of Software Freedom Day have had some light - how about
> you allow others a chance?

_Allow_?  Allow others a chance to _what_, sir?  Are you suggesting that
I'm somehow preventing anyone else from holding an opinion, by
expressing my view?  Do you think I'm operating orbital mind-control
lasers, and are asking me to turn them off for a while?

C'mon, Grant.  Cut the crap.

> In this case you have said what terms not to use (FOSS/FLOSS, etc) but
> have not stated your preference for an alternative.  Open Source is
> not to your liking. 

That has nothing to do with "my liking".  It's simply not a proper noun!
Are you actually claiming it's a proper noun?

> What is?

I tend to throw into what I write both the phrases "open source" and
"free software" as appropriate in context, and (space permitting) try at
some point to subtly suggest that they're two maps to the same semantic
territory (which they are) through wording like "open source / free
software" or "open source AKA free software".

If it's a really short piece, I tend to say just "open source", that
being by far the clearest of the terms available for users of the
English language.

> And do you agree with the idea to use "open source" or "open source
> software" instead of Free Software to denote specifically the group of
> software using licenses that are OSI certified and FSF certified?  

No.  First of all, to repeat my take on the big picture (leaving aside
"certification" for a moment):  Open source and free software are two
maps to the same semantic territory.  Same software and licensing
(modulo meaningless differences on one or two licences nobody really
cares about)[1] , slightly different marketing programs.

I have absolutely no problem with referring to software as either free
software or open source if and only if its licensing terms, source
availability, and lack of problematic legal encumbrances (e.g., patents)
legitimately qualify for those statuses on their merits, regardless of
whether anyone has "certified" the licences.

(You might have forgotten:  Software can be under a OSI or FSF-certified
licence and yet remain proprietary, if either no source is available, or 
the software is subject to significant legal encumbrances that prevent
the exercise of otherwise-granted rights.)  

Anyway, FWIW, I vastly prefer DFSG (the Debian Free Software Guidelines)
as a criterion for "free software" over anything FSF has ever offered.
E.g., what used to be called the Four Freedoms Essay and lately has been
styled the "Free Software Definition" strikes me as functionally useless
for evaluating licences, on account of excessive vagueness.  So, I
consider "free software licences" to mean "licences satisfying DFSG".

> What about those licenses that are FSF certified but not OSI
> certified?

Basically meaningless trivia revolving around a couple of licences
(or maybe as few as one licence) that nobody really cares about to begin
with.  And _also_ irrelevant from my perspective to start with, because
I consider DFSG the relevant criterion as to whether a software licence
is "free".  Since DFSG happens to be almost precisely identical to the
OSD (OSD having been created by slightly modifying DFSG to remove Debian
references), I personally consider there to be _zero_ difference between
the set of free software licences and that of open source licences.

> Rick, I value your input and thought provoking perspective.  Yet even
> when I try to overtly agree with you it is somehow a confrontation.  I
> believe http://www.opensource.org/faq uses the same "noun" usage to
> denote the specific OSI/OSD implementation of the general idea of free
> software and open source software ideas.  

Actually, that appears to be a reference to a would-be, claimed
trademark.  However, you weren't talking about an OSI trademark, but
rather about the generic concept of open source -- which is by its
nature in that context a common noun, not a proper noun.  You weren't
talking about Open Source, the abstract property concept that OSI
asserts under common-law trademark.  You were talking about the concept
of some software being open source.

> The trademark is of the logo and the OSI words.

And those words?  Answer:  The (eventually) USPTO-registered trademarked
term was "OSI Certified" -- not "Open Source".  (By "trademark" you mean
_registered_ trademark.  OSI Board members have asserted common-law
trademark on the term "open source", albeit acknowledging that it is
probably weak.) 

> You are accurate that there is no universally agreed to noun.

Er, that is _not_ what I said.  It's more than bizarre to see you claim
that I did.  I simply said that "open source" is not a proper noun.
Because, in the context you used the term (the usual context), it's not.

> The attempt to register the service mark was unsuccessful. 

Which, as noted, does not automatically mean absence of trademark
rights, period -- just lack of USPTO registration status.  (I would be
glad to clarify the differences between registered trademarks and
common-law ones if you like.  We at _Linux Gazette_ had to research the
law on that matter when Phil Hughes of SSC, Inc. attempted
unsuccessfully to strong-arm our magazine using trademark law claims.)

> This only goes to show that the constant confusion over the very name
> and definition of the "stuff" we are talking about is an ever present
> problem EVEN among people that have dealt with these ideas
> professionally for years.

Um:  1.  Your conclusion is doubtful:  Nobody who's familiar with this
material is in the least bit confused over the name and definition.
2.  Your conclusion also doesn't actually follow from your premise.  
3.  Anyway, all that has really nothing to do with my point, to which
you were replying, that "open source" is simply not a proper noun, and
so should not be in capitals.

The latter isn't a big thing.  I actually just meant to call the matter
to your attenion in passing.

> This is another aspect of the difficulty of educating those not
> already familiar with "open source software."

Getting back to my larger point:  That "difficulty", such as it is,
pales compared to the difficulty of educating anyone using the term
"FOSS" -- for the reasons I mentioned.

[1] The only one I can even think of, offhand, is an early version of
APSL, now long obsolete.  It's possible that one group has 

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