free software v. open source

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petey
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Apr 26 2008 22:14
free software v. open source

can someone explain?

Mike Harman
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Apr 26 2008 23:59

It's quite a big area, and that's a very short question, so I'm not really sure what you're asking. I'd look at the GPL, and the Free Software Foundation for a start. A lot of it has to do with the various restrictions on distribution, whether code can be incorporated into commercially available products or not etc. In my experience a lot of developers use them interchangeably or say FOSS/FLOSS (free (libre) open source software). Then there's "Free as in speech, free as in beer".

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Anarchia
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Apr 27 2008 00:03

very briefly:

free software = software that can be downloaded without having to pay anything. Traditionally, this includes only software where the full version, without included advertising etc, can be downloaded, however you do get some software that calls itself free while having included advertising, a time-limit for use etc. The software could be under a variety of different licenses that allow you to do different things with it.

open source = software that can be downloaded without having to pay anything. The software is also licensed under the gpl which means that the source code (the building blocks of the software) is also released, so that anyone (with the requisite knowledge) who wants to contribute to the software by adding new features, fixing bugs etc, can do it. With the gpl, people can edit the software to their hearts content, and even make huge changes that could use the base code for a piece of software to create a new piece of software that does something completely different (called forking). Any changes made to or software forked from gpl licensed software must also be licensed under the gpl.

Mike Harman
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Apr 27 2008 00:06

Asher, I always used to understand it like that. But there's now open source software that isn't free (and loads of open source licenses which aren't GPL - php license, apache license, LGPL, MIT etc. etc.) so some open source people insist on calling it free software (cf. ubuntu's non-free components, which of course you don't have to pay for).

petey
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Apr 27 2008 00:28
Mike Harman wrote:
I'd look at the GPL, and the Free Software Foundation for a start.

i checked out FSF and also the open source initiative, and came away thinking that the differences were more than personal (between stallman and the other guy). for example,

Mike Harman wrote:
there's now open source software that isn't free

which was something counterintuitive (to me at least) that i cottoned onto with mozilla, which, as i understand, it, is based on linux, which is both open and free, while mozilla itself is for-profit somehow. FSF seems more concerned than OSI to maintain the "free".

asher + catch: my wife, the information retrieval professional (viz, librarian), tells me that licensing agreements such as the gpl, copyleft, creative commons, what have you, are legally enforcable. is that yiz's understanding?

yes it is a big area, and one i'm working hard to understand, but it's, like, a big area. from a libertarian perspective neither FS nor OS seems ideal, though both of course are better than a proprietary system.

petey
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Apr 30 2008 16:00

i've found this website which discusses these topics from a kinda leftist/self-described-marxist p.o.v.:
http://www.firstmonday.dk/

Mike Harman
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Apr 30 2008 17:12
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licensing agreements such as the gpl

The GPL is legally enforceable yes, and has been used as such. It was crafted specifically to take advantage of copyright regulations (to prevent GPL software being incorporated into proprietary systems and redistributed).

As to Mozilla - that's the rule rather than the exception - nearly every bit of open source software has people earning their living from it, and many are commercially backed. However Firefox additionally has agreements with Google, and copyright images within it - this has led Debian to distribute a forked version without any of the proprietary stuff in it (called 'iceweasal').

petey
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Apr 30 2008 17:26
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nearly every bit of open source software has people earning their living from it

right, so i'm learning.

i see that debian is a .org, while ububtu is a .com. yet they both claim to be free (and open). but ubuntu states - boasts even - they they have commercial backing (hence the .com i guess).

thanks for the iceweasel tip.

Mike Harman
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Apr 30 2008 17:52

debian is 100% GPL.

Ubuntu is debian + commercially available support + more up-to-date versions + some support for proprietary non-GPL drivers to make it easier to install.

fwiw, libcom.org runs on debian, I'm typing this from an ubuntu desktop.

Both of them are free and open source, the difference is that debian is 100% a community project, whereas Ubuntu has Canonical behind it.

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OliverTwister
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Apr 30 2008 18:37

Ubuntu also has an ideological agenda though. Spread the internet and all that jazz.

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Anarchia
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May 1 2008 03:02
Quote:
tells me that licensing agreements such as the gpl, copyleft, creative commons, what have you, are legally enforcable. is that yiz's understanding?

Yeah, thats certainly my understanding. Having said that, my geek knowledge is definately a few geek levels below catch's, so I'll leave it to him in this thread (but yeah, agree with your comments on my first post catch, my post was trying to be as simple an explanation as poss without getting into the nitty gritty / politics) wink

Grga
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Nov 11 2012 23:21

Hello, greetings from Croatia! This is my first post here.
I have just made myself somewhat familiar with this topic these days, so I decided to go check what do Libcom people think about Stallman and free software movement.
I must say that I'm a bit disappointed with the answers. I guess I expected that there will be more free software enthusiasts among libertarians. Let me share what I have learned surfing around these days and watching Richard Stallman's lectures on you tube. Briefly.

"Free" in "free software" doesn't mean gratis, as in "free beer", but free as in freedom. Stallman, the founder of Free Software Foundation, the father of GNU, and GPL, insists on calling it free software, and rejects the term "open source". Why? "Open source" is the expression that the part of the free software movement invented to become more appealing to business, so they can get investment. "Free", they said, doesn't sound good to financiers, sounds bad quality or no profit. Even when you explain that it's about freedom of users and sharing and no proprietary restrictions, it's worse because it's commie talk smile. So they invented "open source". Stallman hates it, because it misses the social and political point, which is dramatically important.
Check Richard Stallman on you tube. He is very clear in his lectures and fun. For instance - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krKbyiyApoU

Also:
https://www.fsf.org/ Free software foundation
http://www.stallman.org/ Stallmans personal site.
http://www.gnu.org/ GNU operating system site.