Free Software is often referred to as "Open Source." This is a result of an attempt by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) to create a marketing campaign for Free Software.
The OSI set out to maintain the integrity of the movement and prevent abuse by proprietary vendors by introducing "Open Source" as a trademark for Free Software; but this initiative failed.
Examining the development of the Open Source Initiative after three years, it becomes apparent that the reasons to prefer the term Free Software have become even more true. Speaking of Free Software or the equivalent term in other languages offers many advantages, which we explain below.
Although some people say that using the term "free" creates ambiguity, many languages have separate terms referring to freedom and price. In these languages, the term "free" is not ambiguous. It may be in others, including English, but in those misunderstandings can easily be avoided by pointing out that free refers to freedom, not price.
The terminology "Open Source" refers to having access to the source code. But access to the source code is only a precondition for two of the four freedoms that define Free Software. Many people do not understand that access to the source code alone is not enough. "Free Software" avoids catering to this relatively common misunderstanding.
Unfortunately many companies have started calling their products "Open Source" if at least some parts of the source code can be seen. Users buy this software believing they are purchasing something "as good as GNU/Linux" because it claims to follow the same principle.
We should not allow proprietary vendors to abuse people's enthusiasm like this. Since the "Open Source" trademarking initiative failed, there is no way to prevent abuse of the term that becomes possible because of the aforementioned misunderstanding.
Experience in science and philosophy has shown that a good and clear definition is to be preferred.
The Free Software Definition of the Free Software Foundation with its four freedoms is the clearest definition existing today.
Unlike Open Source, Free Software provides more than just a technical model how to develop better software, it provides a philosophy. Companies can learn and profit from the philosophy and background of Free Software.
Free Software provides the freedoms to
Because of these four freedoms, Free Software offers freedom to learn, freedom to teach, freedom of competition, freedom of speech and freedom of choice.
For all these reasons we made the conscious decision to avoid the term Open Source and speak of Free Software or the equivalent term in other languages.
We encourage you to make the same decision.
An initiative of the
Free Software Foundation Europe
If you also speak about Free Software and would like to know how to participate in the campaign or how to support it, you will find information here.
This campaign was started for Free Software companies, but in this special case we decided to make an exception to the rule:
Bruce Perens, co-founder of the Open Source movement and author of the "Debian Free Software Guidelines" and the "Open Source Definition" asked us to add his name to the list and make it known that he also speaks about Free Software and supports the "We speak about Free Software" campaign.