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

Patrick Lesslie patricklesslie at ihug.com.au
Wed Aug 13 15:09:01 UTC 2003

On Tue, 12 Aug 2003, Dan Shearer wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 12, 2003 at 06:49:04PM +1000, Pia Smith wrote:
> > So far as random terms that the general person doesn't understand,
> > neither "Free Software" nor "Open Source" are easy to understand clear
> > cut concepts from their names. Once people understand them, its all well
> > and good and they make a choice. The danger in choosing "Free Software"
> > is that there is an automatic (and in my opinion negative) reaction to
> > the word "free" that is misleading. The reasons are not the problem, but
> > we can't afford having this initial misunderstanding. Having a term such
> > as Open Source that means _nothing_ to the average person before you
> > explain it, is much better. I like Open Source and seeing it and Linux
> > have become buzzwords that are attracting interest why should we bother
> > changing them and confusing the average layman who really doesn't care
> > anyway.
> I think you are overlooking something here, and on reflection this might
> be part of Greg's original point: "Open Source" might not mean anything
> to the average layman, but to the average person who has to purchase IT
> (even with no technical skills at all) the word Open has been completely
> hijacked already. Open is a buzzword widely used to mean "good" in all
> sorts of ways including open standards, and many things are called open
> standards that are not open by any understanding of the word that you or
> I are likely to have. A government purchasing officer has seen the word
> Open used by just about every computing company there is, especially
> Microsoft.
> Which means that, in some golden future, there might be a term that is
> none of the common options and if not a completly accurate description
> (which is what Greg was seeking to open debate on) at least has no
> historic baggage. Aurgshjaksda, perhaps.
> I'm just pessimistic that such a thing is possible in the near term
> without risking losing the audience entirely. An unprecedented number of
> people are tuned in right now thanks to a coincidence of influences
> around the world. People with business interests based on this stuff
> aren't looking for it to change now.

The word "open" has certainly been attacked over the years.
Wasn't there an "Open Software Group" with something to do
with proprietary desktops?  But I would agree that "Open Source"
seems to have remained largely unassailed, and has grown healthy
and strong in the last few years.

It's a great term too.  It's distribution neutral, and open is a
lovely word, in the context, with a meaning reminiscent of "libre".
Perhaps a little ambiguous, like "free" is, but in a kinder way I
think, and after all, if the source isn't open, what is?

Patrick Lesslie

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