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I would like to know where to find the source code of Ubuntu 12.04. I'd like to see how far it is "open source".

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And it's completely open-source. No need to be skeptical about it... –  asymptotically Jul 24 '12 at 14:09
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All source is open for all of the source code files. –  Anwar Shah Aug 9 '12 at 8:53
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4 Answers

up vote 23 down vote accepted
  1. Linux Kernel Source Code:

    apt-get source linux-source-3.2.0
    

    Where can I find the source code for the Ubuntu Kernel?

  2. Ubuntu Source Code:

    Ubuntu archive

  3. Specific Software Source Code:

    sudo apt-get build-dep $package
    

    where package is the program/package's source code you want to adopt.

    then type:

    sudo apt-get source $package
    

    to get the source for that package.

    For instance:

    sudo apt-get build-dep abiword
    sudo apt-get source abiword
    
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You can download the complete source code ISOs from the Ubuntu download servers

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The source code for every package in the main and universe archives is in Launchpad, or you can get it by enabling Sources in the Software Properties dialog, and then doing apt-get source $packagename in a terminal, after refreshing the package information.

Source code for packages in the partner repositories is not generally available, as they are mostly not open source applications. This is true for some items available in the Software Center as well.

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Software in linux distributions is organized into packages. Each package either contains user facing software like Firefox, or libraries like libasound2 which is required by firefox. If you install Firefox, the apt system will figure out what prerequisite packages exist, will download and install them. Now, these packages are generally distributed as binary files that have already been compiled for a given processor architecture, but the exact source used to compile that version of a package is available via apt-get source firefox.

The vast majority of things in Ubuntu's repositories of packages are open source. But Ubuntu does have a list of approved proprietary software. While this software doesn't satisfy the freedom goals of Ubuntu, they are greatly desired by the community, and provide a lot of value. Examples of this are Skype or Sun Java (now removed). These packages are not listed on the Ubuntu packages site.

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very good rundown of the sw context –  zipizap Jul 24 '12 at 16:12
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