Subject: Re: Do We Need a New Evangelist
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 30 Mar 1999 12:51:18 -0500

   Date: 30 Mar 1999 17:19:31 -0000
   From: Russell Nelson <>

    > Ah, but ESR isn't a free software evangelist, he's an (ex?) Open
    > Source(tm) evangelist,

   Open Source is a marketing term for free software.  If you feel that's 
   not the case, I want to know what you feel needs to be changed.

People have become able to speak of the differences between free
software and open source software, so to that extent open source is no
longer merely a synonym.

I'll try to vaguely express what I see as the difference.

Free software is software which is freely available to all within the
community, for which nobody has any special rights.  This includes all
software under the GPL and BSD licenses.

Open source software is a superset of free software, and includes all
software for which source code is available and for which patches may
be distributed freely.  However, open source software includes
software for which certain parties have special rights, such as (as I
understand them) the NPL and the APSL.

In other words, open source software has expanded its reach by
sacrificing the principle that there is a community with no privileged

For example, Cygnus supports both free software (gcc, gdb, etc.) and
open source but not quite free software (eCos).  Anybody could start
competing with Cygnus in supporting free software.  However, Cygnus
will always have an edge over any competitor in supporting eCos,
because Cygnus will always be able to draw on an additional revenue
stream from the non-free non-open versions of eCos (I have no idea
whether Cygnus is doing this).

All of this is not meant to say that I think there is something wrong
with having a privileged party.  I'm just trying to explain why I have
come to be able to see a difference between ``free software'' and
``open source software.''