Portal:Free and open-source software

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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 systemGNU. 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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Celestia is a real-time 3D astronomy software program that was created in 2001 by Chris Laurel. The program allows users to virtually travel through our universe and explore real objects that have been catalogued. Celestia also doubles as a planetarium, but the user is not restricted to the Earth's surface, like in other planetarium software such as Stellarium. To summarize, Celestia is a scientifically accurate 3D universe simulator, that is also highly customizable. Celestia can display objects of various scales using OpenGL, and the user can seamlessly transition between different scales, from entire galaxies to spacecraft a few meters across.

Celestia is available for AmigaOS 4, Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, iOS, and Android. It is free and open source software released under the GNU General Public License.

Celestia's development stopped in 2013, with the final release in 2011. Since then, some of its development team went to work on celestia.Sci, a cosmological visualizer featuring more realistic rendering of galaxies and planets, gravitational lensing, and many other scientifically accurate enhancements. However, since the Celestial Matters forums went down in 2020, there have been no updates on the progress of the program. The original creator of Celestia, Chris Laurel, created Fifth Star Labs after Celestia's development stopped, and started work on the widely-used iOS app Sky Guide, which is now the 9th most used Reference category app on the App Store. In late 2016, the official Celestia forums were restored, and development restarted. As of 2020 beta testing builds of version 1.7.0 are available, as well as the bugfix release 1.6.2. Celestia was ported to mobile devices in 2020, and it continues to receive updates and loads of experimental beta versions. As of 2021, there is a project on the main Celestia GitHub repository titled Release 1.6.3, but it hasn't been updated in over a year. If 1.6.3 were to be released, it would consist of a major data update, likely backported mostly from 1.7.0. (Full article...)
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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.


Operating systems

The following operating systems are released under free software licenses:

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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


Good articles

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Please consider improving other free and open-source software articles. With your attention, they could be added to this list!


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