For those of you under 30: are you aware of the free software (as in GNU) vs. open source (as in OSI) debate?

Please RT for visibility, I think my immediate circle is mostly older people 😆

· · Mastodon Twitter Crossposter · 50 · 100 · 26

Interesting but unsurprising once you think of it: I got way more RTs in the Mastodon crosspost of this than on Twitter.

Unfortunately it did not generate a poll there, but I got many replies, most saying "yes".

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@hisham_hm I think I need to do a talk / video on this to just catch people up

@hisham_hm yes but mostly as a historical footnote

GPL vs. MIT is still relevant but the larger and broader ethical/moral arguments which (as i understand) were once hotly debated seem largely beside-the-point today

@hisham_hm @cwebber I’m over 30 and only peripherally aware that GNU and open source is not necessarily the same thing :) didn’t know there was a debate though

@rosnovsky @hisham_hm @cwebber To be fair, #GNU isn't a synonym for "free/libre software". It is free/libre software, but there is no requirement for a software to be under the umbrella of GNU in order to be free/libre. GNU was the first to *document* the movement.

@hisham_hm admittedly i am 29, so i barely make the cutoff, but i've read a fair few books about computer and hacker history, so yeah.

@hisham_hm I'm 24 and yes, I'm aware, but I feel like it's not known as it should.

@hisham_hm I'm too old to be in the target audience for this, but some years ago I wrote this, which I hope is still useful.

@hisham_hm I'm not trying to be a smart ass, I'm just asking the question.

@mariusor It was most definitely a debate in the late 90s and early 2000s. The debate died off because the OSS camp essentially "won". My question was whether people was aware that this debate even happened.

@hisham_hm @mariusor I do know that you used "won" between quotes, but as far as I — a 24-years-old that has some technological preferences of pre-1994 people — can say, being one of the volunteer contributors for many #SoftwareFreedom projects — e.g.: @fsf and #UNESCO's #FreeSoftwareDirectory ( ), #Trisquel, #Replicant, #GNU #Guix, #LibreJS, #FreeJS replacement, besides being a speaker/presenter — think this is far from lost.

@adfeno @mariusor Keep fighting the good fight!

It was never easy back then, it certainly isn't now. The poll results I'm getting is that among the under-30 crowd I'm being able to reach on Twitter, about a third haven't heard of this topic.

@hisham_hm @mariusor I'm also an issue reporter on occasional #GNU #FSDG issues found in some of the few system distributions approved by @fsf as being free/libre (because those have a stricter guideline than simple freedom of the software, thus also requiring commitments from the community around the distribution), besides being a freedom of the software reviewer for the #FreeSoftwareDirectory. The FSF lists approved system distributions.

@hisham_hm You are asking this the wrong audience, we are all nerds here in the Fediverse. ;)


I am repeatedly disappointed by evidence that that's just not the case.


@frumble I have crossposted this on Twitter. There (in the very biased sample of my followers and those who RTed) the results are roughly 2/3 yes, 1/3 no

@hisham_hm I'm well over 30; but, it's also easy to forget that this debate even exists because it is eclipsed by so many other news in the community. Having an occasional refresher on the state of this debate is useful and beneficial, I think.

@hisham_hm vaguely? I know that there is a debate but I don’t know what the sides or arguments are. I’m 28

@alpine_thistle @hisham_hm "free/libre software" is a movement that, in capability-based theory of political philosophy, gives the user control over his own material environment, also taking care to give these freedoms and *preserve and spread* then legally. According to , and . Thus strong and "or-later" #copyleft license with community enforcement is advocated ( #AGPL first then #GPL second).

@alpine_thistle @hisham_hm On the other side there is a mix of #OpenSourceInitiative / #OSI and its followers, but also some which incorrectly label things as "open". #OSI supports #DigitalHandcuffs such as #DigitalRestrictionsManagement / #DRM and #RestrictedBoot ( e.g. some #Android and modern computers have it), FSF doesn't. #OpenSource is a development method favoring lax / non-copyleft licenses and so sacrificing freedom of the software. FSF accepts #SecureBoot.

@hisham_hm yeah ive certainly come across them, but i would struggle to elaborate on all the nuances

@hisham_hm not only aware of it, it came up in a short fic I wrote a few years back.

@hisham_hm missed the under 30 part, don't qualify for that for the last *mumble* years.

@hisham_hm very much so, to the point where I'm trying to only use software that qualifies as free, instead of just "open source".
Most software marketed as open source is free software though, but in the rare occasions that it isn't i tend to not use it.

@hisham_hm Infact there was a section in our highschool textbook about difference between open source movement and free software movement

@hisham_hm Wait, is under-30 a thing people do now? In my day, we didn’t have that.

@carcinopithecus I was born in 1968. I remember my mom telling me about the whole “Don’t trust anyone over 30” phenomenon.

@mkb I'm running a poll on Twitter on this. I want to know how aware the younger generation is about some historical events of the mid/late 90s that have been pivotal to the tech industry and whose consequences we live to this day.

@hisham_hm When I started working in Ruby I was struck by the community's relationship to past tech work.

On one hand, by throwing out the pathologies of past tech, they were able to build some amazing tools. On the other hand, they also missed some of the lessons learned and had to reinvent the wheel or be bitten in the ass by well-known risks.

@hisham_hm yes, but I'm also listening to the podcast and have listened to RMS talks.

Yes, lately I tend to give a brief history and difference in terms every time I start to explain the concept of free software and/or open source software to somebody unfamiliar

@hisham_hm i'm also not really heavy into the tech community in general though so!

@hisham_hm the article I send to people about this is .

(I'm over 30; want to help people in the thread learn more about this.)

@hisham_hm I'm aware of it.

I think we now mostly see it in the form of discussing webapps and IOT, as that's the more pressing issue.

I'm 24 btw.

@hisham_hm I'm 19 and I'm very aware of it. I think I got introduced to the free software movement first.

@hisham_hm Yeah, and I'm 20.

My particular point of view is that there is a clear difference between free software and open source software, it's not the same.

I also believe that open source software has contributed to the situation we are currently experiencing, where there is massive surveillance everywhere.

@lorabe Yes, I definitely agree that open source "winning" helped to pave the way to the world we're in.

That's why I wanted to know if younger folks even heard about it.

I'm running a poll on Twitter, and it's 2/3 yes, 1/3 no (and I know my sample is super biased!)

@hisham_hm I'm 27, I'm aware of the difference between free software and open source, but I thought the debate died off years ago as there are no middle ground to reach. Flamewars might still happen, but they aren't constructive and thus aren't debates.

@minoru Yes, that's true. I wasn't sure about framing it as a "debate" (it certainly was then) but at least I wanted to assess the awareness about that historical moment at least.

I'm running a poll on twitter too, and it's roughly 2/3 yes 1/3 no.

@hisham_hm I'm a little older than the cutoff, but I felt like it was mostly a played out debate even when I was starting in OSS back around 2005.

@pingveno Yes, I think it was at it hottest in the late 90s and early 2000s. Yet we are still living the consequences of how the community and the industry have moved since.

@hisham_hm im 25 and i not really.. I'd love to learn more about it, though

@hisham_hm I'm 21, been defending the GNU position since I was 11-12, particularly on the movement and copyleft aspects - nowadays I'm less inclined to GPL & co but still mostly support the same ideas

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