Portal:Free and Open-source Software
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Portal:Free and Open-source Software


Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that is distributed in a manner that allows its users to run the software for any purpose, to redistribute copies of it, and to examine, study, and modify, the source code. FOSS is also a loosely associated movement of multiple organizations, foundations, communities and individuals who share basic philosophical perspectives and collaborate practically, but might diverge in detail questions.

The historical precursor to this was the hobbyist and academic public domain software ecosystem of the 1960s to 1980s. The FOSS movement's "free" part originates from Richard Matthew Stallman, who noted the lost freedom to users on the decline of the public domain ecosystem and the growth of a copyrighted proprietary software ecosystem. In response, as a hack of the copyright system, he created the GPL, a protective copyleft license, aiming for the creation of a complete and free operating system -- GNU. Shortly after, the BSDs (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD) brought an alternative FOSS approach to the table: the more public domain-like permissive licenses. Other noteworthy FOSS organizations from this time include the Apache Foundation (Apache Server), GNOME, Debian, Mozilla Foundation (Firefox), with their own ideas: The Free Software Definition, Debian Free Software Guidelines, The Open Source Definition, and more. At the end of the 1990s, in the context of the dot-com bubble and web 2.0, the Open-Source movement (with Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, Tim O'Reilly and others) gave important impulses to FOSS with the achieved open sourcing of Netscape's browser as Firefox and Sun Microsystems' office suite, OpenOffice.org. The incorporation of Linus Torvalds' Linux kernel in FOSS OS paved the way to broad mainstream recognition and acceptance of FOSS in the IT domain and among the general public. In the 2010s GitHub's openness and collaboration encouraging software repository cloud service brought FOSS software development & maintenance methodologies to mainstream software development.

The FOSS movement inspired the creation of other movements, such as open access, open hardware, open content, free culture, open standards, and many more.

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DragonFly BSD 4.2.3 boot loader

DragonFly BSD is a free and open-source Unix-like operating system forked from FreeBSD 4.8. Matthew Dillon, an Amiga developer in the late 1980s and early 1990s and FreeBSD developer between 1994 and 2003, began working on DragonFly BSD in June 2003 and announced it on the FreeBSD mailing lists on 16 July 2003.

Dillon started DragonFly in the belief that the techniques adopted for threading and symmetric multiprocessing in FreeBSD 5 would lead to poor performance and maintenance problems. He sought to correct these anticipated problems within the FreeBSD project. Due to conflicts with other FreeBSD developers over the implementation of his ideas, his ability to directly change the codebase was eventually revoked. Despite this, the DragonFly BSD and FreeBSD projects still work together, sharing bug fixes, driver updates, and other improvements.

Intended as the logical continuation of the FreeBSD 4.x series, DragonFly has diverged significantly from FreeBSD, implementing lightweight kernel threads (LWKT), an in-kernel message passing system, and the HAMMER file system. Many design concepts were influenced by AmigaOS. (Full article...)


Although there was free software before, in 1983 Richard Stallman launched the free software movement and founded the Free Software Foundation to promote the movement and to publish its own definition of free software. Others published alternative definitions of free software, including the Debian Free Software Guidelines and the Berkeley Software Distribution-based operating system communities.

In 1998, Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond began a campaign to market open-source software and founded the Open Source Initiative, which espoused different goals and a different philosophy from Stallman's.

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Impediments and challenges
Digital Millennium Copyright Act · Digital rights management · Tivoization · Software patents and free software · Trusted Computing · Proprietary software · SCO-Linux controversies · Binary blobs
Adoption issues
OpenDocument format · Vendor lock-in · GLX · Free standards · Free software adoption cases
About licences
Free software licences · Copyleft · List of FSF-approved software licenses
Common licences
GNU General Public License · GNU Lesser General Public License · GNU Affero General Public License · IBM Public License · Mozilla Public License · Permissive free software licences
...of free software · Free software movement · Timeline of free and open-source software
Groupings of software
Comparison of free software for audio · List of open-source video games
Naming issues
GNU/Linux naming controversy · Alternative terms for free software · Naming conflict between Debian and Mozilla

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