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1. Introduction to Linux > 1.5. Open Source and the Philosophy of Linux

Open Source and the Philosophy of Linux

When new users encounter Linux, they often have a few misconceptions and false expectations of the system. Linux is a unique operating system, and it’s important to understand its philosophy and design in order to use it effectively. At the center of the Linux philosophy is a concept that we now call open source software.

Open source is a term that applies to software for which the source code—the inner workings of the program—is freely available for anyone to download, modify, and redistribute. Software covered under the GNU GPL, described in the previous section, fits into the category of open source. Not surprisingly, though, so does software that uses copyright licenses that are similar, but not identical, to the GPL. For example, software that can be freely modified but that does not have the same strict requirements for redistribution as the GPL is also considered open source. Various licenses fit this category, including the BSD License and the Apache Software License .


  

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