[Linux-aus] libre aus

Jon "maddog" Hall maddog at li.org
Tue May 1 12:10:24 EST 2012

On Tue, 2012-05-01 at 09:34 +1000, Arjen Lentz wrote:
> Hi Dave, all

> The word Libre tends to require clarification/explanation to those who are not
> already familiar with it, so it becomes the equivalent of an in-joke. It's not suitable for
> branding.
You might say the same for the word "Google", but it turned out to be a
pretty good brand.

I am one of the people credited with the term "Open Source".  I was on
the telephone in that historic meeting, and at that time I felt that the
term "Free Software" was holding Linux back, since most of business was
panicking over people's concepts that all software would be "gratis".

I admit to being in the bathroom when the term "Open Source" was
suggested and quickly voted on, but over the years in listening to rms,
I have realized that being "Open" is not enough, it is the freedom that
is important.  I can show you all the source code you want to see, but
if I limit your freedom to change it, use it, modify it and distribute
those changes, then the "openness" counts for little.  Patents are a
fine example of something that is "Open" but not "Free".

When a child misuses a word we don't just ignore it, we correct them.
We should have corrected the people who used the term "free" in an
incorrect way.  Instead we chose to ignore that, and now everything is

It would have been great if Richard had named the FSF the Freedom
Software Foundation.  If you don't like Libre, you could correct the
problem by creating "Freedom Australia" or something like that.

"Open" is just not enough.


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