Subject: Re: improving project maintainership
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 14:25:44 -0500 (EST)

Quinn Weaver writes:
 > All right, this sparring has gone on long enough.  It's clear that the
 > movements involved have irreconcilable philosophical differences.

No, I think this issue *can* be reconciled and I further believe it to
be in the interests of free software businesses for us to do so.
Dissension among the ranks is debilitating, and is fodder for our

Here's how I propose that Richard deal with us.  First, he should
acknowledge that the free software movement is inevitably part of the
open source movement, simply because his goals form a part of our
goals.  We, too, want to see a world free of the scourge of
proprietary software.  We can't abandon the cause of software freedom
even if we wanted to.  The GPL is the first Open Source license for a
reason (

Second, he should position "Free Software" as the pure form of "Open
Source".  One slogan he could use is "We're the FSF.  We put the
Freedom in Open Source".  Then, rather than having to explain how
awful we are for not saying "Freedom", he will have people enquiring
"Freedom?  In Open Source?  What do you mean?"  Then he can give his
positive message of freedom instead of his negative message of a split
in the movement.

Third, OSI should tell people "If you want freedom, go to the FSF.
They put the Freedom in Open Source", and not shy away from the issue
of freedom.  Part of the reason we never mention freedom is because
RMS has conflated freedom with ethical judgements.  I'd like to be
able to say "Open Source gives you the freedom to run your own
business, instead of being run over by your software."

This message is similar to the way organic food[1] is marketed by
organic farmers.  They don't say "We're not farmers, we're Organic
food producers".  That would be silly and nobody would believe them.
It would be a completely uphill battle to persuade people that organic
farmers are not farmers.  Instead, they say (with some reason) that
organic food is fresher, tastier, and free of chemicals.  Organic food
is pure food.

It's hard to market something by saying what you're not.  At the Linux
World Expo, the FSF booth had a sign saying something like "We are the
FSF.  We're NOT a part of the Open Source movement...."  Imagine if
Avis said "Rent from us.  We're NOT Hertz."  Blah.  Thanks, I think
I'll rent from Hertz if it's all the same to you.  No, they said "We're 
#2.  We try harder."[2]

[1] Note that the "Organic Food" idea came from Michael Tiemann, who
is an overwhelmingly clever person.  He saw me holding two Linux iPAQs
running X and immediately said "Gee, you could run them as one
side-by-side X display".  What a hack!  Pure genius!


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