I was (re)reading some of the articles by Richard Stallman recently. In the article Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software, this particular paragraph really stood out for me.
However, the obvious meaning for the expression “open source software”—and the one most people seem to think it means—is “You can look at the source code.” That criterion is much weaker than the free software definition, much weaker also than the official definition of open source. It includes many programs that are neither free nor open source.
At Red Hat, I work on a project a called openshift.io. Even though the source code is available on Github, I’m pretty sure a new comer to the project will struggle a lot before they can get it up and running - it might even be impossible unless you know a lot of Kubernetes and Openshift details.
Is it free software in spirit if you get the code, but cannot run it? What if you get the code, but you don’t have access to all the internal resources, documentation, conversations and context the employees have? When we talk about FOSS as a social movement rather than as a software development methodology, the universal sharing of knowledge is far more important than few lines of code.
It is not proprietary; but at the same time it is definitely not free in the way it was imagined by FSF - and to me that is the essence of free software. We are doing no better than the Android model and as a free software believer and advocate; its a major let down.