Subject: Re: OSI enforcement?
From: Rick Moen <>
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2008 21:06:17 -0800

Quoting John Cowan (

[a = the list of licenses, b = covered software]

> On (a) there is very little substantive disagreement: there are few
> licenses that are FSF-free but not OSI-open or vice versa.  On (b)
> there is even less: the amount of software licensed under such licenses
> is minuscule.  The main license that is discrepant is the original
> Artistic License, which is not FSF-free but is OSI-open; however,
> almost all the software under this license is also under the GPL.

I concur with your general line of reasoning.

> This large body of software, now amounting to many terabytes of code,
> may be neutrally known as FLOSS (free/libre and open source software).

Neutrality is _one_ of the qualities one might seek in a term that will be
used in public relations.  Most of us would consider avoidance of
obvious and epic PR disasters to rank several steps above that.

"FLOSS" fails.

Once a member of the general computing public recovers from a case of
the giggles over the association with dental hygeine, he/she is left 
utterly clueless about what the term denotes -- unless and until the
observer learns about not one but two abstract concepts, and pegs the
expression as an acronym referring to both of them at once.  

Some terms can be fairly said to have null value in public outreach, but
this one outdoes them, staking out novel territory in the negative-value 
column.  To borrow a phrase from a prior decade, it leaves a giant
sucking sound in its wake.

I'd say:  Lose it -- on grounds of whatever combination of reasons of
good taste, practicality, and sanity-presevation that you find most

> However, the Free Software movement (as distinct from all of its
> supporters) would be willing to support technically inferior free
> software over superior proprietary software, whereas the Open Source
> movement (as distinct from all its supporters) would not.

I consider myself a member in good standing of both efforts, and this
does _not_ speak for me.  For one thing, it seems to assume that one
should engage in licence advocacy (e.g., telling people they should not
use licences they wish to use, or should not use products they wish to
use on account of licensing), which I do not do for a number of reasons
including it just not working.

> That is not to say that the Open Source movement would *favor*
> proprietary software in such circumstances, merely that it abstains from
> opposing it.

I assert that I'm properly considered a member of both efforts despite
not "opposing it", because I maintain that it's always and everywhere
appropriate to eschew particular initiatives that simply do not work.

Cheers,           "I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate
Rick Moen         those who do.  And, for the people who like country music,         denigrate means 'put down'."      -- Bob Newhart