Morality and Pragmatism in Free Software and Open Source

Morality and Pragmatism in Free Software and Open Source

Dave Yeats (Auburn University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-999-1.ch003
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Abstract

This chapter analyzes the differences between the philosophy of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as described by Richard Stallman and the open source movement as described in the writings of Eric Raymond. It argues that free software bases its activity on the argument that sharing code is a moral obligation and open source bases its activity on a pragmatic argument that sharing code produces better software. By examining the differences between these two related software movements, this chapter enables readers to consider the implications of these differences and make more informed decisions about software use and involvement in various software development efforts.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Proprietary Software (PS): Software without publicly available source code, commonly seen as the opposite of free and open source software.

Free Software (FS): Software with freely available source code developed in the tradition of the Free Software Foundation and influenced by the writings of Richard Stallman.

Morality: An appeal to the fundamental goodness of an act; primary rationale behind the free software movement.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS): A more inclusive term for all software with freely available source code.

Open Source Software (OSS): Software with freely available source code developed in the tradition of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and influenced by the ideas of Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens.

Pragmatism: An appeal to the usefulness of an act; primary rationale behind the open source movement.

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