Subject: Re: improving project maintainership
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: 13 Feb 2002 14:55:34 +0900

>>>>> "Nick" == Nick Jennings <> writes:

    Nick>  The OSI wants the world to be _FREE_ of proprietary
    Nick> software? Then why is one tactic of the OSI to use
    Nick> proprietary agreements where applicable and/or beneficial in
    Nick> either a monetary or strategic sense?  Not that this is
    Nick> good, or bad, but just that I don't think you can hope to
    Nick> get rid of something by condoning and partaking in that same
    Nick> thing yourself.

What one wants, and what one can realistically achieve, are two
different things.

    Nick>  So, the OSI doesn't mention freedom because it *thinks* RMS
    Nick> taints the word and/or the meaning? Sorry but thats a load
    Nick> of crap. If the OSI doesn't use the word "freedom" because
    Nick> of that, they have got the wrong set of priorities. Since
    Nick> when did properly representing yourself, or your beliefs,
    Nick> become less of a priority than not scaring off the big
    Nick> business because you use the word "freedom" ?

Speaking for myself, I rarely use the word "freedom" not because
Richard has "tainted" it, but because he has appropriated it.  My
definition is much the same as Russ's, but it's not worth arguing with
Richard about it.  He can not be debated on the point, because it is
axiomatic for him.  And to most of the broad community, "freedom" has
come to mean a right that people (inalienably) hold over software,
whereas my definition is that "freedom" is a property with which
software is endowed by people.  (The freedom that is an inalienable
characteristic of people is simply choice.)

Were I to use the word "freedom," people would understand something
different from what I mean.  Richard is largely responsible for that;
Russ's usage was equally plausible a priori.  This is not a complaint,
languages evolve, fixed usages are necessary, and Richard got there
first.  I merely want to state the reasons for avoiding the word in
less invidious terms than those you chose.

I have to admit that the OSI home page is pusillanimous on this point,
but that's a different issue.

    Nick> After all, [the FSF] DID start this all. The OSI is merely a
    Nick> byproduct of the FSF ideals and the need to make money and
    Nick> work with proprietary minded businesses, dont you think?

I don't.  Intellectually, the FSF DID NOT "start this all".  The FSF
was necessary because Richard got burned badly by his assumption that
the hacker mores of sharing source were much stronger than they are in
many individual cases.  But as even a quick scan of the GNU Manifesto
will show, the FSF and GNU codified certain ideals that were already
present and already defined a community.  Certainly, GNU made some
essential contributions, like the idea of a 100% free full-fledged
operating system, from silicon to Web.  And the GPL.

But the OSI is not at all a "byproduct" of the FSF's formulation of
the ideals.  Rather, it stems in large part from a common intellectual
tradition, and in the early days its members often joined forces with
the FSF under the free software banner, or operated independently of
both the FSF and each other.  But it does encompass a number of
variant themes.  Naturally, as the movement grew, the FSF (not
inappropriately, given its own charter and goals) actively opposed
some of the things the members of the variant stream wanted to do, and
refused to provide support for other proposals.  Thus the birth of the
somewhat independent open source movement, and the OSI as its visible

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
              Don't ask how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.