OpenSource.org Email

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Please find below an email Stewart sent to the Open Source Initiative, authors of the Open Source term, suggesting consensus on the terms FOSS/FLOSS.

Subject:   OSS = FOSS + COSS
Date:         Sun, 01 Feb 2009 17:41:33 -0500
From:        Wm Stewart <wstewart@livinginternet.com>
To:             issues@opensource.org
It is time to resolve the disagreements of the past, and, where we must, to rise above them. The term "open source" was useful, a better term than "free software" for the times. Without it to ease the way, the field would not be nearly as successful as it is. But now, blind defence of the term has now become counterproductive, only helping to muddy the waters.
It has been 18 months since the President of the OSI acknowledged that strict defence of the term "open source" was a losing battle: http://www.opensource.org/node/163 The trend has only strengthened. We should see the increasingly popularization of "open source" to generally mean "openness" as what it is, a spectacular mark of success. And a sign it is time to move to a next phase.
We must heal the rifts of the few, in order to protect the interests of the many. We must remarry Stallman with Raymond, and use FOSS/FLOSS instead of the generic "open source". For if we fail to reconcile around our greatest agreement, we shall continue to lose mindshare to "commercial open source software" (COSS) containing proprietary and closed code, leading back to exactly where none of us want to be, standing apart, and losing apart.
As full disclosure, to help make this point I donated http://FreeOpenSourceSoftware.org/ and related domains to the community as a Wiki strictly about free software/FOSS/FLOSS. Of course the site rightly points to OpenSource.org as the authority on FOSS licensing.
However, it would be greatly in the interest of our common goal if the OSI stepped up to the implications of COSS by first labeling it as such. Accept if some code is open they will be able to convincingly claim the term, but put the word "commercial" in front of it. Then close the loop by leveraging your leading position to make a clear identification of FOSS/FLOSS as at least acceptable terms, preferably on the OSI home page. I'm told every great rapprochement starts with one side making an often unexpected move in the greater interest. The OSI could be that historical mover, helping heal a divisive rift and moving us to a stronger future.
Respectfully yours,
Bill Stewart

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