Bruce Perens is one of the founding fathers of the Open Source movement in software. He was the person who first announced "Open Source" to the world in 1998, and is the creator of the Open Source Definition, the manifesto of the Open Source movement and the rules required for a software license to be considered "Open Source". Today, Perens works as a leader in the Open Source and Free Software community. He advises many large companies and several national governments on issues related to Open Source. Perens' main policy areas regarding Open Source are:
The Competence Fund of Western Norway sponsors Perens' Open Source policy work in Norway and some of his work in other European nations.
In his Open Source work, Perens is standing on the shoulders of giants: in particular Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software movement in the early 1980s. Perens positions Open Source as a different way of talking about Free Software, intended for a different audience - business people and those who would be more receptive to an economic and pragmatic argument than to Stallman's focus on Freedom as the raison d'tere. Perens believes that Open Source and Free Software are a single movement rather than two conflicting ones. Perens believes that promotion of Open Source should not deprecate Stallman or his philosophy.
Stallman himself understands but does not entirely accept Perens' slant on using the language of Open Source to promote Free Software. This is Stallman's statement:
Free software and Open Source seem quite similar, if you look only at their software development practices. At the philosophical level, the difference is extreme. The Free Software Movement is a social movement for computer users' freedom. The Open Source philosophy cites practical, economic benefits. A deeper difference cannot be imagined.
The origin of Open Source lies in a practice that could have come from Dale Carnegie: if you seek to persuade someone, present the case in terms of his values and desires. For persuading business executives, citing practical, economic advantages can be effective. By all means do so, if it feels right to you, when speaking privately to executives.
Talking to the public is something else entirely. When we talk to the public, we promote whatever values we cite. If we cite only practical, economic advantages, and not freedom, we encourage people to value practical advantages and not value freedom.
Those values make our community weak. People who prefer a state of freedom only for the secondary practical and economic advantages it brings do not appreciate freedom itself, and they will not fight to defend it.
This is the reason I stated, in my joint speech with Bruce Perens, for not supporting the practice of presenting Free Software in public in the limited economic terms of Open Source.
Despite their differences, Perens and Stallman maintain a good relationship and work together frequently.