'FOSS' and 'Open Source' Publication/Search Filter

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#1 by grravity
2020-12-12 at 16:09
< report >Currently we have the ability to set the publication of visual novels to freeware, I am suggesting the ability to select 'FOSS' (Free, Libre, and Open Source) as well as 'Open Source'.
An alternative to 'FOSS' could be 'Libre' which is a bit nicer sounding in my opinion.
I am suggesting adding these options to the search filters if implemented.

To be clear, open source is not FOSS, but all FOSS is open source.
This is why I suggest both tags, I do not want people labeling open source games as FOSS, when they are only open source.

*However I would hope for at minimum that we can have 'FOSS/Libre'.*

I do not wish to take up a lot of text here, but I do want to provide some material in case it is not clear what FOSS is.
I also do not wish for this thread to become a big debate on whether or not FOSS is good or bad, or the pros or cons of FOSS, but I do want to just provide some guidance in case it is not clear or seems minor.

Freeware does not mean the source code is viewable, it generally means it is closed and proprietary.
The benefits of FOSS games are many, for one as games age and developers stop working on their games, it allows for users to fork them and ensure they can run into the future, and be more compatible. It also allows modifications easier if desired. There is an additional benefit of making it easier to port the game to other platforms if the lead developer does not have the personal desire to.

There is also a privacy and security aspect, which some may not care about, but some people do, and the ability to view and audit the source code they are running on their machines (there is an argument for running in a VM, or on a dedicated machine, however that is not the point.) for security issues, as well as games attempting to do malicious things. This is not anything new, and is not limited to software, there have been many attempts of software and games data mining, using idle resources for cryptocurrency mining, sending keystrokes remotely, etc. Of course the simple fact that the source code is open does not mean it does not do these things, however it is far easier for someone to verify then if it was closed.

Here are some resources to guide.
GNUorg FLOSS and FOSS - link
Wikipedia, Free and Open Source Software - link
GNUorg Malware in games - link

There are tools that are free and open source, such as Ren'Py (link) to build visual novels. However, just because it was built with free and open source tools, does not mean the game itself is free and open source.

I know this can be a hot topic, however I think if we have freeware, I think this is a very nice tag to be able to have as well as be able to search by.Last modified on 2020-12-12 at 16:11
#2 by yorhel
2020-12-12 at 16:26
< report >
To be clear, open source is not FOSS, but all FOSS is open source.
"Open source" according to the OSI definition (and as commonly used) and "Free software" according to the FSF definition are basically the same thing. FOSS as a term refers to either of these definitions. You probably meant to say that "source available" is not FOSS.

Would FOSS imply Libre assets (art/writing/music) as well, in your view?

Either way, FOSS and gaming aren't very strongly a thing, so not sure how useful such a filter is.
#3 by grravity
2020-12-12 at 16:59
< report >
"Open source" according to the OSI definition (and as commonly used) and "Free software" according to the FSF definition are basically the same thing.
Open source only implies the source code is available, FOSS implies the source code is both open as well as free (freedom). As stated, all FOSS software is open source, however some open source software is not FOSS. The keyword being the lack of "freedom". This is partially why we use "FOSS" or "FLOSS" instead of simply "Open Source".

"In practice, open source stands for criteria a little looser than those of free software. As far as we know, all existing released free software source code would qualify as open source. Nearly all open source software is free software, but there are exceptions. First, some open source licenses are too restrictive, so they do not qualify as free licenses. For example, “Open Watcom” is nonfree because its license does not allow making a modified version and using it privately. Fortunately, few programs use such licenses."
As stated here link.


Would FOSS imply Libre assets (art/writing/music) as well, in your view?
Yes. However this is partially why I also suggested the "open source" tag alongside "FOSS/Libre".


Either way, FOSS and gaming aren't very strongly a thing, so not sure how useful such a filter is.
I agree with the first part of this, partially.

So for one, The gaming community has been benefiting greatly from FOSS tools as of this past decade, and they're only getting more relevant. As mentioned Ren'Py is free and open source, then unrelated to visual novels, but gaming in general we have tools such as Lutris and the WINE compatibility layer (which helped create Proton compatibility layer). We also see many gamers migrating over from Windows to GNU/Linux for gaming and everyday usage now that more games are supporting it natively, as well as the compatibility layers.

Secondly, there is also a wide variety of games (generally indie games) that are completely free and open source, although indie they're still free and open source. There are also FOSS remakes and clones of older and even some modern games. I have also come across a handful of free and open source adult and non-adult visual novel and anime games, including visual novels. I do not have the names off the top of my head however, as they are hard to find due to un-rememberable namings.

Thirdly, as previously mentioned there are many benefits to FOSS games, even if the selection isn't triple A currently, the benefits are still there and desired by some gamers. As previously mentioned, the ability to take the developers work and easily port it to other platforms, ensure longevity as time ages, audit the code for possible privacy and security concerns, help the developer fix bugs, fork the code and use it as a base to create other games, are all really beneficial to the gaming community.

Lots of indie developers especially, have issues with making the game, releasing it, then simply leaving it and deprecating it as time goes on. In my personal opinion, there is absolutely no reason at minimum, to not make the game FOSS after you decided to stop working on it, and want to walk away from it, it does nothing but harm the future of the game, and in some ways the community by not opening it up.

I think part of having the FOSS or Libre publication also brings awareness to these issues, as well as makes it easier to discover the currently smaller amount of games that do truly respect the users freedoms. I fail to see any harm in introducing it, even if it is small it is there and will make discovering these games nothing but easier.Last modified on 2020-12-12 at 17:07
#4 by yorhel
2020-12-12 at 17:07
< report >
Open source only implies the source code is available
No, it most certainly means more than that, again, you're confusing it with source-available.

I've no clue how many VNs are fully libre in both source and assets, but I suspect you'll be better served with a simple list of qualifying games than a filter - it's unlikely to be a long list.
#5 by grravity
2020-12-12 at 17:33
< report >
No, it most certainly means more than that, again, you're confusing it with source-available.
My mistake, open source does imply the source code is available, as well as similar root ideas such as redistribution, however it does still differ to FOSS. As both of us originally stated, they are very similar, however they are also different.

I could be wrong on certain aspects, I am not a textbook, nor am I extremely knowledgeable with all the licenses. However I provided my resources where due. It is clear at minimum there is difference between Open source and FOSS.

Historically, the term free software came before open source.

Both have the similar core ideas of right to use, study, share, & modify.
The actual objectives, ethics, and philosophies vary (and some align) however.

Again, the four freedoms in FOSS are important.
(gnuorg - "free software") - link


Freedom 0 -- The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.

Freedom 1 -- The freedom to study how the program works and change it so it does your computing as you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Freedom 2 -- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.

Freedom 3 -- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

The Free Software Foundation embraces copyleft to protect the four freedoms, which in turn legally prevents people from redistributing free software with added restrictions.

Also free software licenses can be open source, but not all require developers to share their code. These would be permissive licenses such as the MIT license, which permits developers to use open code to create closed source software.

Again, here is this: ("gnuorg - Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software", By: Richard Stallman) - link

And in relation, freeware (Freemium, shareware, etc.) which we currently already have as a publication type, as mentioned it generally just means free as in not incurring any costs, however generally offers minimal freedom to the user, such as modification, redistribution, etc. Keyword generally, because it is a very loose term as far as freedoms and source code goes, it only truly means it may be used without payment. A completely different philosophy/value from both FOSS and Open Source.

I've no clue how many VNs are fully libre in both source and assets, but I suspect you'll be better served with a simple list of qualifying games than a filter - it's unlikely to be a long list.
Again, I agree the list may be small, it is however growing, and this makes it easy to discover games with these ideals.

Ontop of this, we have freeware, I think the option to have at least FOSS would make sense. Why would we mark a FOSS game as freeware, when we can mark it as FOSS (or Libre) which describes it far better. Personally if I want to find FOSS games, having everything labeled as freeware makes it kinda hell to sort through.



Keep in mind, VNDB is a database, we provide information on the visual novel such as this. I think something as to whether or not the game is FOSS, Open Source, Closed Source, Freeware, etc. is extremely relevant. It only makes our database more detailed, and easier to query/search through. A list is great, by why separate it when having it incorporated into the database can be far more beneficial in many ways, & the links on the list will probably redirect to VNDB or the developer website anyways?Last modified on 2020-12-12 at 17:41

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