Misunderstanding open source #2: Confuse FOSS, FLOSS, Open Source and Free Software
The term ‘FOSS’ means ‘Free/Open Source Software’. The term ‘FLOSS’ means ‘Free/Libre/Open Source Software’
FOSS and FLOSS are two different terms for the same thing – the combined software production of the Free Software movement and the Open Source movement.
The free software and open source movements are similar to each other in many ways but are not the same. The differences are largely political and ideological. To most consumers of the software these differences are immaterial. For years I tried to maintain an impartial position on these differences, but have lately given up and sided with the open source movement.
Because of the definitions of these terms it is usually meaningless to compare or contrast FOSS with open source or FOSS with free software because FOSS includes both of them.
Here is an example of wrongly using these terms from a Dana Blankenhorn post (http://blogs.zdnet.com/open-source/?p=4901):
FOSS is idealism, 80-proof distilled idealism, and the open source movement was born in 1998 as a reaction against that.
There are two problems with this statement. Firstly, this statement says that open source was born as a reaction against Free/Open Source Software. Open source was created as a reaction against itself? This is clearly meaningless. The second problem is that that FOSS and FLOSS refer to the software – not to the movement, participants, politics, practices or philosophies. The software itself does not have idealism, the people creating it do. To make sense this statement should be:
The Free Software movement is idealism, 80-proof distilled idealism, and the open source movement was born in 1998 as a reaction against that.