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Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Posted Aug 5, 2010 3:47 UTC (Thu) by elanthis (guest, #6227)
Parent article: Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Marketing and mind share has long been the FSF's (and RMS') biggest problem. I'm quite sure that the term "Open Source" is used more often due to the absofreakinglutely idiotic decision to use the highly ambiguous and largely meaningless term "Free". When you have to footnote every conversion on the top to not only describe the term's meaning but also make sure the audience didn't assume you meant the more obvious definition, you have a very large self-inflicted problem.

Likewise, project names like GNU (or the "proper pronunciation of "GNOME") are just ugly and unattractive. Nobody likes guttural sounding words, at least not in English-speaking cultures.

The desire to force people to prefix that guttural name before the rolls-off-the-tongue "Linux" moniker is just worse. Not only do you make the name uglier, you make it longer! People use names like "Vista" not "Microsoft Windows Vista". People at lazy typists and speakers (again, especially in English cultures). If GNU had a less hideous name, RMS might even have managed to get people to that instead of Linux. There's just no chance in hell of getting people to say "GNU/Linux" in common usage,
Ever.


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Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Posted Aug 5, 2010 6:02 UTC (Thu) by BrucePerens (guest, #2510) [Link]

Nobody likes guttural sounding words, at least not in English-speaking cultures.

Your prejudice is showing.

English, of course, is descended from the West Germanic languages, and pretty much all Americans (including the Native Americans) have a guttural language in their descent.

I like the sound of Chutzpah especially.

Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Posted Aug 5, 2010 12:56 UTC (Thu) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

"Gnaag" sounds guttural and unpleasant. "GNOME" and "GNU" don't, at least not to my English-speaking audio subsystem. Slightly jarring and pretentious, since the syllable-initial cluster /gn/ violates the contemporary phonotactic constraints of Modern English just about everywhere, but not unpleasant. The "making the name longer" bit, on the other hand, is a very good point.

Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Posted Aug 5, 2010 15:27 UTC (Thu) by BenHutchings (subscriber, #37955) [Link]

I'm quite sure that the term "Open Source" is used more often due to the absofreakinglutely idiotic decision to use the highly ambiguous and largely meaningless term "Free".

Whereas "open" is completely unambiguous, right?

Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Posted Aug 5, 2010 20:51 UTC (Thu) by Fats (subscriber, #14882) [Link]

I am maybe just a simple non-native English speaking foreigner but to me 'open source software' is much less ambiguous than 'free software'. Sure, the marketing people have probably misappropriated every word in the universe; like the word 'open' in the UNIX/POSIX world is.

greets,
Staf.

Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Posted Aug 6, 2010 9:10 UTC (Fri) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

Thing is, I look at the phrase "open source software" and I go "Well, how open is open? What can I do with the source?" - quite simply, it needs almost as much explanation as "free software", and much more than "software libre".

Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Posted Aug 9, 2010 12:37 UTC (Mon) by Fats (subscriber, #14882) [Link]

I'm from Belgium and the other part of my country speaks French. To me the term "software libre" just means "software you may do whatever you want with" or "software without any strings attached". So it would better fit for BSD style open source than for GPL licensed software.
To me, it does not even have to mean that source code is included.

greets,
Staf.

Balancing accessibility and software freedom

Posted Aug 12, 2010 6:28 UTC (Thu) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

True. The specific meaning of open, is subject to interpretation.

But atleast it makes it clear that it is talking about the sourcecode being open -- i.e. oposite of closed, which is definitely the right direction.

Whereas "Free Software" runs the risk of being thought of primarily as in 'for zero cost', and doesn't indicate that it's got anything to do with sourcecode at all.

Thus, imho, both terms are possible to misunderstand, and need some explanation to make clear exactly what is meant. But it's a lot easier to go REALLY wrong with "Free software".

Especially since "zero cost" is the default interpretation most people will choose if presented with "Free [product]" where product is something that often costs money.

"Free icecream" "Free beer" "Free game" "Free entry"

True, the same people choose a better interpretation if free is used in connection with something that isn't seen as a "product" that normally costs money. They do get the right idea if you say "Free elections" or talk about having a "Free press" (not the same as "Free Newspaper")


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