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Chapter 1. Getting Started > What Is Open Source?

What Is Open Source?

Firefox is one of many open source products, along with the Linux operating system, the Apache web server, and the OpenOffice Suite. Open source products are products for which the source code is available for users to examine and, if they wish, to modify. This model promotes software reliability and quality via a worldwide community of developers who can submit their own improvements to the code or simply patch it for their specific needs. The open source model differs radically from the “closed source” or “proprietary” model used by Microsoft, Adobe, and most other software manufacturers, who will do almost anything to prevent outsiders from viewing their products’ source code.

Open source software is not freeware (although most open source products, including Firefox, are free), nor does it just mean that users can have access to the source code. The license for a true open source product must provide for such things as


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