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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Re:GNU/Linux, Linux Divide

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Re:GNU/Linux, Linux Divide
Date: 02 Apr 2002 19:43:01 +0100

On Tue, 2002-04-02 at 14:56, Anthony Ogden wrote:
> But I can see why average Joe-Windows (or other closed OS) users can get so 
> confused and scared by all this stuff when they, like me, might talk
> about Open Source then find they should be talking something else, and
> then find out that someone says their OS is not called what they
> thought it was.

The reason people here make a big deal of Open Source vs. Free Software
is because of the essentially political nature of the subject. The
definition is important - although you see OSS and Free Software as the
same thing (according to the OSD, they should be the same thing), in
practice people call all sorts of software Open Souce. Free (as in
speech) Software doesn't get confused like that. 

If you think about what we're doing, we're not trying to introduce
people to Linux, or use something different in preference to Windows, or
get people to meddle with source code, or any of that (at least, not
directly). We're trying to get people to think about what freedom they
have when they use their software. Can they share it? Can they improve
it? Can the software be useful to society?

"How can I use Free Software in practice?" is not important, insofar as
if people are using Free Software but don't understand the essential
freedom they've been given, what is the point? Even if you don't want to
alter the program, even if you don't want to share copies of your
software with others, having an understanding of Free Software as a
society is important - it's like being able to tell if you're in jail or
not. If people aren't aware of their right to suffrage, for example,
they don't notice when you don't give them a right to vote (at least,
not initially ;). Similarly, we can't expect people to ask for and
expect Free Software if they don't know what it is. 



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