Change website text on Free Software / Open source / FOSS4G

What do you think about replacing “Open source” with “FOSS4G” on our website?

Why was Open source used?

Our website is focused on serving the public, and the difference between “Free software” and “Open source” software is important for technologists but offtopic and ignored by geospatial professionals website audience.

As a result many of the sentences end up just saying “Open Source”…

Indeed even the OSGeo vision statement is reduced to open source.

The wider IT community uses Free and open-source software (FOSS) in this context.

Our community uses Free and Open Source Software for Geospatia (FOSS4G) which is also the name of our most popular conference series.

Why consider FOSS4G?

The term FOSS4G covers both Free and Open Source, and is somewhat approachable to our target audience now due to the success of the global and regional conferences.


  • Good branding / outreach
  • Is it foss4g or FOSS4G?
  • More accurate then current practice of “Open source”
  • Has an “air gap” with Business Software License or Source Available (like Server Side Public License and Java Research License)
  • Advocacy: Informing people about these differences is part of our “empower” vision:

    Empower everyone with free and open source software for geospatial (foss4g).


  • Getting into the difference licenses making things “needless” complicated (our target audience is content with “open source” it is what they are looking for)
  • Acronym (of any sort) makes sentences more technical and less approachable by the public.
  • We would have to define this term up-front on every page; make sure the first use on the page is “Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G)”
  • Viewpoint that only technologists care about the difference between “free software” and “open source software” (and “business software license”)

Thanks for the thorough proposal @jive

I don’t understand this. Elasticsearch uses the SSPL but I can’t see how this change would be a pro here.

In my opinion the cons you described are too heavy. OSGeo has already the “Open Source” term in its very name and even I’m fine using the FOSS term, adding an acronym when we have reasonable and well-known term for it feels making our messaging harder to understand.

I also kind of like having FOSS4G as much attached to our conferences as we can, and even I also use the term when talking about the software in technical contexts. It can be confusing if we use FOSS4G in our frontpage for a different purpose.

On this note, when I was answering @scottmchale survey I realized our frontpage is not really stating what OSGeo is in a single sentence other than being a foundation. First thing I see when I visit the page is the title and then three calls-to-action but without much context about what OSGeo really is or does. Would it make sense to add a couple sentences on the foundation’s mission?

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The thinking being is that we have “simplified” the here to focus on the usability of the technology (primary concern of GIS professionals). This is also a missed opportunity to fulfill the empower (specifically the education part of empower).

Now that there is an established “foss4g” term that covers both free and open source - we could make use of it ear and often eh?

I recently recovered the website design docs (as the hosting service is shutting down at the end of the year). The initial design had

With the “MORE ABOUT OSGEO” taking on the heavy lifting.

I wonder if that button was lost accidentally when the donate button was added?

It should link to About OSGeo - OSGeo which is about as clear as we get on our vision and goals.

aside: I really do not like the DONATE button being the first thing people see. It immediately turns the relationship in “what can you do for us”?

Totally agreeing on replacing the donate button by the “More about OSGeo” at the very least. I also dislike that donate button there.

I still think there’s plenty of space for a block with a brief description that adds a more of context directly in the front-page. Something around these lines (just mocked a sentence to take a spin in the visuals). We could take more horizontal space for both the title and subtitle, I think.

lol - you can see how that breaks the visual design. But your point is a good one …

I am going to see if the button is something we can edit, or if it is part of the theme. The original “ABOUT OSGEO” should be restored for sure.

I also notice the central “About open source geo” is the part that tries for the advocacy “what do we believe” communication. This is the best place to explain what FOSS4G is, and the page it goes to What is Open Source does indeed explain both open and free.

Update: I have restored the design and reopened the issue that made the change. If a donate button is to be added it needs to be done so with greater care