[Fsf-friends] For the records: OSI forking

Ramanraj K ramanraj@md4.vsnl.net.in
Fri Nov 21 07:34:45 IST 2003

The free software movement forked in 1998 with the open source initiative labelling free software as "open source".  We have seen why "open source" is superficial and why it cannot distinguish itself from proprietary software. If the OSI forks again, and continues its "open source" line for businesses, but joins the main stream "free software" movement in actions connected with the law, it would be in the best interests of both the movements and the community.  Hence I sent a mail to Mr. Eric Raymond of the OSI.  But my mail was rejected as follows:

>Your message cannot be delivered to the following recipients:
>  Recipient address: esr@thyrsus.com
>  Reason: Server rejected MAIL FROM address.
>  Diagnostic code: smtp;550 5.0.0 <ramanraj@md4.vsnl.net.in>... net.in blocked"

Then I sent the contents to osi@opensource.org, and the replies revealed that they have also blocked reasoning, which is far worse.

Mr. Russell Nelson of the OSI fairly wrote:
>Please accept that we'll call it open source, and you'll call it free
>software, and that we both mean the same thing.

This however missed the concern how the law should call it.  Therefore, I replied inviting the attention of Mr. Russell Nelson to this specific issue, which was replied as follows:

>Microsoft gives away free software.
>... "free software" is inherently confusing. Why do you think
>RMS always has to give his free speech/beer footnote?  Why do you
>think proprietary software companies give away free software?  Because
>they're our friends?  I don't think so.
>The solution to all of this nonsense is to establish a certification
>mark, which is what we've done.
>I don't want to continue this discussion.

A "certification mark" assumes discerning users, who might very well distinguish directly between "free software" and "proprietary software", without the aid of a third party certification.  Law and software thrive upon building through reasoning, with an open mind, anticipating future scrutiny. 

Since Mr. Russell Nelson closed the discussion, we are free to ignore the fork that would meet its nemesis on its own. 


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