[Fsf-friends] FLOSS, how the term came into being...

Frederick Noronha (FN) fred@bytesforall.org
Mon May 23 01:07:23 IST 2005


Free/Libre Open Source Software
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The term Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS as different from FOSS) is  a 
hybrid term for both free software and open source software, which are 
different terms for the same substance.

"FLOSS" was created as a project acronym by Rishab Ghosh[1] 
(http://flossproject.org/people.htm), and popularised after the European 
Commission in June 2001 funded a study on the subject [2] 
(http://flossproject.org). In July 2002 a survey and study [3] 
(http://flossproject.org/report/) and a report of the workshop [4] 
(http://flossproject.org/workshop/) portion was produced and gave wider 
publicity for the term.

The aim was to create a term which didn't alienate the advocates of either the 
free software philosophy, or the open source philosophy. It was hoped that such 
a term would ease friction between the two movements and thus improve 
cooperation. Indeed, Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software movement, 
has publicly recommended[5] 
(http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/audio/rms-interview-edinburgh-040527.txt) the 
use of this term for those, especially in the research community, who wish to 
appear neutral.

The L in FLOSS is meant to emphasise the "has freedom" meaning of the word 
"free" rather than "no charge" (gratis), while FOSS, for Free/Open Source 
Software, can give the impression that "Free" refers to "no charge".

Some non-English speakers prefer this acronym as it can be translated to 
languages other than English:

 	the F can stand for Frei in German while the L was explicitly
 	drawn from Libre in French and Spanish, Livre in Portuguese, and
 	Libero in Italian, and so on.

At the end of 2004, FLOSS has been used as an English-language term of choice 
in official documents in a number of countries including South Africa[6] 
(http://www.naci.org.za/floss/index.html), Spain[7] 
(http://europa.eu.int/idabc/en/document/1637/470) and Brazil[8] 
(http://www.softwarelivre.org/news/1727). In Spanish and Portuguese, 
libre/livre software remains the term for free software, avoiding the 
English-language confusion that led to the creation of the term Open Source.

Another term similar in aim to FLOSS is non-proprietary software. Legally 
speaking, however, only public domain software is non-proprietary.

See also

     * Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)

External links

     * Please read original The Lifecycle of Software Technology
       to find more.
     * Free/Libre and Open Source Software: Survey and Study FLOSS Workshop
       report (http://www.infonomics.nl/FLOSS/workshop/proceedings.htm),
       links to full study.
     * Free as in Education. Significance of the Free/Libre and Open Source
       Software for Developing Countries.
     * Information for development www.i4donline.net
     * FOSS primers at International Open Source Network (IOSN) by UNDP
     * FLOSS conference at National Institute of Technology Calicut, INDIA
     * FOSS examples and adoption in countries

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