[Talk] Re: [Linux-aus] Open source: time for a name change?

Greg 'groggy' Lehey Greg.Lehey at auug.org.au
Wed Aug 6 12:54:42 EST 2003

On Wednesday,  6 August 2003 at 12:06:49 +0930, Dan Shearer wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 06, 2003 at 11:45:53AM +0930, Greg 'groggy' Lehey wrote:
>> Years ago, rms came out with a pretty obvious term, "free software".
>> Despite everything, the name was misinterpreted (beer?  actions?).
>> And the suits didn't like it because it smacked too much of
>> counterculture.  So the term "open source" was invented, and it's
>> doing quite well for itself.
>> But if you can misinterpret the intentions of "free software", how
>> much more can you misinterpret "open source"?  Go out in the street
>> and ask passers-by what each means.  Those who have never heard of
>> either will have a reasonable idea what free software is, but they
>> wouldn't even associate "open source" with software until they're
>> told.
> The only really solid term I've seen is "Linux". It seems to be readily
> recognisable as a "free software thingy" and I've used Linux-style for
> describing Apache on Solaris and FreeBSD to good effect. As long as
> people understand the details hardly matter.

If you want to understand the details, yes, the details matter.  Sure,
you can use "Linux" as a sort of catchall, but there will be groups
who don't want to be thought of as "Linux".  And it also fails the
man-in-the-street test, though possibly not as badly as "open source".

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