The New Utovsky Bolshevik Show

Wed, 24 Sep 2008

'Open' Considered Harmful

In the past couple of days, there have been two posts on the programming reddit that have caught my attention:

Here we have two codebases that seem obviously free. They are seemingly accepted within the free software ecosystem yet until recently have not been free software. Never having used these from a coder's perspective, I've never had any reason to investigate their licensing thoroughly. However, I've certainly used them as part of my desktop, and still had no idea.

This suggests to me that using the term 'open' to refer to software that is free as in speech is harmful. You will do only one of two things:

There is no good reason for someone developing free software to want either of these things to happen. The only incentive I can see here is for someone who wants their code to be accepted within the free software community without the supposed disadvantage of licensing their code under a free license.

If you're not convinced, consider Microsoft's latest file format offering, Office Open XML. If that doesn't convince you, you're not even trying.

EDIT: It has been noted in Reddit comments and in #wuglug that these complaints apply to 'free' as well. I should note that:

Posted: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 20:05 | Tags: , , | Comments: 0 |