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[GNU-linux-libre] Free software and open source

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: [GNU-linux-libre] Free software and open source
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2011 17:37:00 -0400

Free software and open source are the names of two political camps
within one community, which is the free software community.  (It is
not unusual for there to be people within one community who disagree
deeply about a political question.)

The people who coined the term "open source" started from a rejection
of the philosophical values of the free software movement.  They aimed
to cause our ideas to be forgotten, and they would have succeeded if
we had not worked hard to keep our movement going.  Even so, most of
our community seems to think I agree with the open source ideas, and
I frequently have to correct people.

In addition to this deep difference, which is as wide as could be,
there is also a practical difference: they drew the line at a
different place.  In the past, this only occasionally made a
difference, but it is getting more important as tivoization becomes
more frequent.  For instance, many Android phones contain tivoized
versions of Linux.  Those executables are open source, but they are
not free.

for more explanation of the difference between free software and open
source.  That page states where we stand, and is updated as needed.

Our distro endorsement criteria don't raise the question of whether a
distro uses the term "open source".  There are two reasons for this:

* Our criteria are about ethical conduct of the distro, not whether it
states its endorsement for the free software movement.

* Many important free programs that a distro would probably want to
include are developed by supporters of open source, and they typically
use that term in their packages.  Given that those programs are free
software, it would be quite undesirable for distros to exclude them,
and to ask distros to modify them all in regard to this would be a big
pain in the neck as well as raising various issues.

We don't make upholding our political views a condition of our
endorsement, but we appreciate it very much if you do it.  For
instance, referring users prominently to is
very helpful.

Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
  Use free telephony

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