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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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Mozilla Firefox (or simply Firefox) is a free and open-source web browser developed by The Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, Mozilla Corporation. Firefox is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, BSD, illumos and Solaris operating systems. Its sibling, Firefox for Android, is also available. Firefox uses the Gecko layout engine to render web pages, which implements current and anticipated web standards. In 2017, Firefox began incorporating new technology under the code name Quantum to promote parallelism and a more intuitive user interface. An additional version, Firefox for iOS, was released on November 12, 2015. Due to platform restrictions, it uses the WebKit layout engine instead of Gecko, as with all other iOS web browsers.

Firefox was created in 2002 under the codename "Phoenix" by the Mozilla community members who desired a standalone browser, rather than the Mozilla Application Suite bundle. During its beta phase, Firefox proved to be popular with its testers and was praised for its speed, security, and add-ons compared to Microsoft's then-dominant Internet Explorer 6. Firefox was released on November 9, 2004, and challenged Internet Explorer's dominance with 60 million downloads within nine months. Firefox is the spiritual successor of Netscape Navigator, as the Mozilla community was created by Netscape in 1998 before their acquisition by AOL.

Firefox usage grew to a peak of 32% at the end of 2009, with version 3.5 overtaking Internet Explorer 7, although not Internet Explorer as a whole. Usage then declined in competition with Google Chrome. , Firefox has 9.5% usage share as a "desktop" browser, according to StatCounter, making it the second-most popular such web browser; usage across all platforms is lower at 4.66% (and then third-most popular overall). Firefox is still the most popular desktop browser in a few countries including Cuba (even most popular overall at 49.7%) and Eritrea with 72.26% and 83.28% of the market share, respectively. According to Mozilla, in December 2014, there were half a billion Firefox users around the world.



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.


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
History of...
...free software · Free software movement
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


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