Sunday, July 13, 2008

Closed Source vs. Open Source in Desktop Linux

When most people in IT think of Linux, they picture an open source operating system kernel, along with other software, coming together to create the server and desktop OS based on Free software. That image is accurate – and there’s no question that it’s open source code (and community cooperation) that has helped Linux to become the powerhouse that it is today.

But at what point do we accept that – whether we like it or not – closed source applications will eventually have to be let in to this otherwise "open" world? After all, this has already been happening for years, despite the Linux purists kicking and screaming the entire time.

In fact, closed source code is used everyday within the Linux world. And here’s the funny thing: most of us never really think twice about it.

Closed source with Linux – it's not a new concept.

While the core of the desktop Linux operating system (regardless of distribution) is powered by open source code, it is commonly used side by side with code that gets less attention – indeed, many Linux purists seem to forget about: Closed source software and drivers are used with desktop Linux every single day by thousands of people.

From specific firmware added by select distributions to ensure wireless compatibility to the open source software known as WINE, which allows users to run closed source Windows applications, proprietary code has its place on the Linux desktop.

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