Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: Richard Stallman <>
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 02:55:51 -0600 (MDT)

      Furthermore each group feels that the rhetoric used by the
    other group is detrimental to their own goals.

I think my view of the Open Source movement is more favorable
than this would make it seem.

The Open Source movement has a conscious strategy of appealing only to
practical values such as quality and power of software, and not
talking about freedom as a benefit in itself.

I don't think that their principal points, talking about the practical
benefits of what I call free software, are detrimental to the Free
Software movement.  I agree with most of these points, except for
occasional minor details which are not worth fighting about.  And
their silence on other points, while not helpful, is not directly
harmful either.

However, some of the leaders of the Open Source movement actively
denigrate the Free Software movement and argue against it.  Sometimes
they seem to seek to absorb the Free Software movement or cause it to

This rhetoric is definitely detrimental to the Free Software movement.
It is also peripheral to the Open Source movement's position.  That
movement could perfectly well work for its goals without attacking the
Free Software movement.

The Open Source movement spreads a view that has the potential to
encourage people subsequently to come to value freedom as well.  But
this second step does not happen automatically--people may agree with
the idea if they hear it, and hear it in a way that makes it seem
respectible to consider.  There needs to be a Free Software movement.
I wish the leaders of the Open Source movement would respect the
existence of one.