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Old 03-13-2011, 09:04 AM   #1
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Registered: Feb 2011
Location: Pune, India
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Question Is it really an open source?

My question is, if linux is an open source OS, can we view the source of any of its element? like panel, menu bar, or trash, or anything? My question can be silly one, but basic for me! And if we can view the source, can we modify it also?
Old 03-13-2011, 09:17 AM   #2
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Well, the answer is essentially "yes (probably)".

Linux is NOT an OS. Linux is a kernel. So you can view all the sources for linux the kernel. But it's likely that the distribution you use is open source (your profile says Ubuntu, which is) and therefore you can view the source for that. Though again, if you're looking at the source for panel/menu bar, then that is more likely to be your window manager / desktop environment (in Ubuntu's case GNOME - which is again open source).

Hope this helps,
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:46 AM   #3
David the H.
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Yes, it's pretty much all open, with the exception of a small number of closed-source, third-party add-ons such as the nvidia graphics drivers. And most distributions either keep those in separate sections of their repositories or refuse to distribute them at all.

In the end though it all depends on the license each individual source file was released under. Your common "Linux" distribution is really a collection of separate projects cobbled together from around the FOSS community, centered around the Linux kernel and the GNU core utility toolkit. Other major projects usually included or available are xorg, gnome, kde, mozilla, samba, and many more, none of which are exclusive to Linux.

The vast majority of FOSS projects are released under the GPL (either solely or as part of a dual-license), which was created specifically to protect the "Four Freedoms" of users. Much of the rest uses even looser licenses such as the BSD and Apache, which are pretty much just a step short of public domain.

Some technologies, such as the mpeg group codecs, also have patent and other IP considerations to consider, however.
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