Is Ubuntu an open source software (OSS)?

  • Related question on UNIX.SE: What makes Ubuntu not totally Free Software? – Dmitry Alexandrov Oct 8 '14 at 16:31
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    Ubuntu is not open source. Its a project that uses many FOSS projects but Ubuntus source code is not open to anyone. Think of it like a burger from your favorite shop. You know what it has. But you never know how such things were combined or what was added in the process because you can never see how its made or you yourself will never be able to make it. Simply because the source code for Ubuntu is nowhere near OPEN. – Denis Jun 12 '16 at 8:24
  • the link ubuntu.com/desktop says Ubuntu is open source. But note that anything Open Source means its SOURCE is open! True that ubuntu is a combination of large amount of free and open source software but that DOES NOT make Ubuntu open source because even though those software are open source, the source code for UBUNTU is no where to be found! – Denis Jun 12 '16 at 8:24
  • And This question is not a duplicate question. The linked question is about some legal aspect. This is a different question. Clearly there is something fishy going on this forum. – Denis Jun 12 '16 at 8:25

This is not a simple question at all.

As well as Debian’s one, official repository of Ubuntu includes free (mostly) and some non-free software in different sections, but their names are not so clear: main and universe consist of free packages, restricted and multiverse – of non-free. Some of packages in the latter two could be really necessary to use you PC (like some firmwares and some drivers), but the rest are not.

Moreover, Ubuntu makes installing non-free software easy enough to be installed accidentely without realizing what did you install.

If you are concerned about non-free software on your PC, you might use aptitude to find out whether anything non-free is installed:

$ aptitude search '?installed (?section(restricted) | ?section(multiverse))'

or install a small utility vrms, and ask it:

$ vrms

If you are conserned a lot about using only free software, you might consider installing a Trisquel GNU/Linux, which is basically completely free Ubuntu.

As for the term ‘open source’, if you just use it as a synonym to ‘free / libre’, see all the above. But if you cares about Open Source Initiative opinion and want to follow it strictly (there are actually few who do it, but if), then even the main and universe sections of repository includes some software, which is not ‘open source’ according to OSI: OpenSSL is a most notable example. Yes, OpenSSL cannot be technically called ‘open source’ according to OSI (despite the http://openssl.org states the opposite), since its license is basically conjunction of license of SSLeay and 4-clause BSD License, so it inherited obnoxious BSD advertising clause, which is not OSI-approved.

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  • Could I use Ubuntu for any purpose for free? Like if a large company wants to use Ubuntu would they have to pay anything? – Philip Rego Aug 20 '19 at 22:27

Yes it is!

Ubuntu software is free. Always was, always will be. Free software gives everyone the freedom to use it however they want and share with whoever they like.

Refer the Ubuntu philosophy for detailed information.

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    OSS ≠ Free. There is free software that's not open source (example: Adobe Flash Player). – To Do Oct 8 '14 at 15:04
  • @ToDo Adobe Flash Player is not a free / libre software, it is and always was proprietary. – Dmitry Alexandrov Oct 8 '14 at 15:05
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    Flash Player is free (you do not have to pay to use it) but not Open Source (as you said it is proprietary software). – To Do Oct 8 '14 at 15:06
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    @muru Gratis (adj.) might be better term for it. – Dmitry Alexandrov Oct 8 '14 at 17:01
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    @DmitryAlexandrov True - gratis v libre. – muru Oct 8 '14 at 17:09

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