77 votes
Accepted

Why do some people refer to Linux as GNU/Linux?

The GNU project was created to produce a free software alternative to Unix. They were able to produce most of the programs an operating system would provide, but their kernel, the GNU Hurd, was not ...
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48 votes
Accepted

What exactly is Tivoization and why didn't Linus Torvalds like it in GPLv3?

Tivolization, named after TiVo that widely used it, is a practice of devices running free software, but placing restrictions (such as digital signatures) that block running modified versions of the ...
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  • 3,807
41 votes

Is the term 'open source' a trademark?

International trademarks can be searched online in the WIPO Global Brand Database. “open source” is trademarked in some areas, none relevant for software OSI holds a US trademark for “Open Source ...
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  • 33.8k
36 votes
Accepted

What does 'upstream' mean?

Consider the obvious analogy (from which the term flows - pun intended) ... water in a river flows 'downstream' and thus 'upstream' is the source from which the water comes. This analogy is deeply ...
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  • 6,705
29 votes

Is the term 'open source' a trademark?

The OSI failed to secure a trademark on "open source" in 1999, and the term remains not trademarked. You may use "open source" to mean virtually anything you want, without legal ramifications, but to ...
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  • 31.3k
26 votes
Accepted

What is the correct term for software whose source code is available only to read?

Source available is a common term used to describe such licenses.
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  • 1,766
25 votes
Accepted

What's the difference between permissive and copyleft licenses?

The Free Software Foundation invented the term Copyleft. Here's what they have to say about it: Copyleft is a general method for making a program or other work free, and requiring all modified and ...
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25 votes
Accepted

What is the difference between FOSS and FLOSS?

French Skills to the test! Libre -> Free as in Freedom. I'm Free as a bird! Gratuit -> Free as in Free Food. The Food is Free! People started using the term FLOSS to help make the vision that the ...
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  • 6,239
25 votes

Why do some people refer to Linux as GNU/Linux?

Linux vs. GNU/Linux Terminology and History-in-Brief In common usage, the terms Linux and GNU/Linux IPA: /ɡəˈnuː slæʃ ˈlɪnəks/ † [though often said sans 'slash', the FSF recommendation is to ...
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20 votes
Accepted

Derivatives and Forks... Is there a difference?

What's the difference? Is there a difference at all? The obvious difference is that "derivative (work)" is a legal term, and "fork" is a software term. For example, the musical and motion picture "...
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  • 8,705
20 votes
Accepted

Is "open software" the same as "open source" software?

The term "open source" has a broad base of speakers who use the term to refer strictly to software licensed under terms in compliance with the Open Source Initiative's Open Source Definition document. ...
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19 votes
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What is copyleft?

Copyleft is actually a term coined by Richard Stallman (also called RMS) who is the pioneer of the Free Software Movement which ultimately resulted in today's world where people take using FOSS ...
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19 votes

What exactly is Tivoization and why didn't Linus Torvalds like it in GPLv3?

Linus has stated that he didn't like the anti-tivoization clause in GPLv3 because it fundamentally changes the GPL. The whole point and purpose of the GPL, in Linus' mind, is to make users of GPL ...
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19 votes

Is "open software" the same as "open source" software?

As the other answer says, "open software" is not generally used as a synonym for "open source software". If I heard a vendor describe their application as "open and flexible", I would generally ...
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  • 391
18 votes

Is Open Source Software a subset of free software?

tl;dr: No. It depends on the definitions of the terms "Open Source Software" and "Free Software". A common definition (and in my opinion it’s the one that should be used, otherwise ...
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  • 5,310
18 votes

What exactly is a pull request?

The term "pull request" comes from git, where the git pull command is used to merge a different repository into your local one. So if someone else has a copy of your git repository, and makes changes ...
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  • 3,993
16 votes
Accepted

GPL v3 "convey" vs. GPL v2 "distribute"

The GPL FAQ states: Is “convey” in GPLv3 the same thing as what GPLv2 means by “distribute”? Yes, more or less. During the course of enforcing GPLv2, we learned that some jurisdictions ...
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  • 10.8k
16 votes

Why do some people refer to Linux as GNU/Linux?

It's to distinguish GNU/Linux from other operating environments built on Linux. Each of the following environments combines Linux proper, which is a kernel, with a different "userland", or set of ...
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15 votes

Is "open software" the same as "open source" software?

The concept of an open system in engineering predates the concept of open source by a few decades. The use and popularity of the concept in software development occurred roughly the same time as, if a ...
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  • 739
14 votes
Accepted

What is the relation and/or difference between freeware and free software?

Freeware is software that is released and can be downloaded and used without cost. No other rights are implied by the freeware label (although the author might offer more). So freeware doesn't imply: ...
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  • 10.8k
13 votes

What is the difference between FOSS and FLOSS?

I think FOSS and FLOSS are synonyms. (The FSF agrees, but recommends to use FLOSS.) "Free Software" refers to The Free Software Definition, "Open Source" refers to the The Open Source Definition. The ...
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  • 5,310
12 votes
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Can a software license meet one of the FSF's and OSI's definitions without meeting the other?

Yes. See the examples from my answer to the question "Is Open Source Software a subset of free software?": Example 1: Free Software, but not Open Source Software Netscape’s early versions ...
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  • 5,310
12 votes
Accepted

Is Open Source Software a subset of free software?

From Open Source Initiatives FAQ: "Free software" and "open source software" are two terms for the same thing: software released under licenses that guarantee a certain, specific set of freedoms. ...
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  • 6,239
12 votes

What does it mean to license a patent to software?

A practical example of the difference between software and patent licenses is FFmpeg. FFmpeg has support for many audiovisual codecs, many of which are covered by software patents in some countries. ...
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11 votes

Are Copyleft and Share-Alike synonyms?

The terms "copyleft" and "ShareAlike" both refer to reciprocal licensing, in which downstream users receive the same rights to your changes that you received for the original work. But copyleft is a ...
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11 votes

What exactly is a pull request?

If you have distributed version control systems, every developer has a copy of the full repository. If you change something to the software, you commit your changes to your local repository. If ...
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  • 10.8k
10 votes

What's the difference between permissive and copyleft licenses?

Short answer: Copyleft is a term coined by the FSF and implies that if you distribute a derivative work of a work under a copyleft license, you must distribute the derivative under the same license ...
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  • 8,705
10 votes

Is Open Source Software a subset of free software?

The main difference is philosophical, and so subtle that it is easy to miss because it is not in any licence or list. It is that open source tends emphasize quality, reviewability, correctness and ...
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  • 290
10 votes

What is copyleft?

Copyleft is a general idea, not a specific license. It's used for talking about licenses. It means the general idea of using copyright to ensure open redistribution. Since copyright is usually used ...
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  • 339
8 votes
Accepted

What is the difference between free as in beer and free as in speech?

Free as in beer, is like getting something without payment. Getting food from the community fair (There's one in Toronto that gives free hamburgers to the community every year), something from friends,...
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