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  1. #1

    Is open source a subset of proprietary software?

    First of this is not a out-lash at open source, or Linux but an honest question.
    I am still relatively new to the unique world of Linux. Started off with Ubuntu when Unity came out, but am now currently using Linux Mint 11. So far I have loved many things about Linux and have learned alot but I am still full of questions. I have been for the past month and a half trying to avoid windows and making Linux my primary desktop but I keep on asking my self certain questions. If all the programs on Linux are open source and available for all then that means an operating system like windows has complete access to those same programs as well. But the other way around doesn't seem to be true. Linux does not have access to native programs for windows. For example I use code-blocks IDE when I am in Linux but I could also use this in windows. But I could not use Visual Studio in Linux which is what I prefer while I am in windows. I know that wine exists but I trying to speak about plain old Linux and plain old windows. So since the above from my experiences seems to be true, is open source considered a subset of proprietary software? If it is, then is it logical to continue to use Linux, from a software perspective? Now I agree that it is best to run applications on a more stable operating system period. But to be honest I have not run into any major problems in windows(7). So to me it is just as stable for my personal use. I also know and agree that its awsome to be a linux user and know I would never have to inevetst hundereds of dollars into a new operating system again! But I am not planning on buying a new operating sytem any time soon anyway. So back to my original question, Is open source a subset of proprietary software?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Roxoff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Nottingham, England
    You are suggesting that Open Source software is a smaller set within the greater set of Proprietary software? If that's the case then the answer is clearly no it isn't.

    They're both subsets of, perhaps, a set of All software.

    Just because you can use a particular application on both open source and proprietary operating systems does not mean they're the same thing from this point of view.
    Linux user #126863 - see

  3. #3
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Either at home or at work or down the pub
    No by its very nature open source can in no way be proprietary. The rules of copyright and proper attribution still apply to open source but in exactly what way depends on the licence it is released under.

    Some licences such as the GPL require you to make the source of any changes you make to the software available (although not the source of any software that uses the open components) and some licences such as the BSD licence basically equate to "Here you go. Now do what the Hell you like with it!"
    Should you be sitting wondering,
    Which Batman is the best,
    There's only one true answer my friend,
    It's Adam Bloody West!

    The Fifth Continent

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    thanks for your reply, it makes more sense that they are both subsets. But I am still in doubt about using Linux as my primary desktop. I would really love the idea of not relying on commercial software but at the same time I love to use commercial software, that and I love MP3 support in windows. I love GNU/Linux and what it stands for but being able to run windows and have things like MP3 support, access to open + closed software, and above all how easy it is to make things work makes me question Linux. If only windows had more customization! I am sure if I were doing more in depth computing and terminal scripting I would not even consider windows at all. But in terms of general use I dont understand the logic in using Linux at the moment.

  6. #5
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    MP3 support for Linux has grown greatly in the last few years.
    Most folks have no real issue getting MP3 playback for whatever the player. The only real speedbump is the fact that you usually need to install that particular plugin (legal reasons, and whatnot). Linux Mint provides most plugins out-of-the-box.

    I'm not a big gamer... I like Diablo 2... wife likes Starcraft...
    Linux runs those games in Wine. And to be honest, I get better performance now than I did on a WinXP machine.

    If you're in doubt of what you can do with Linux as compared to Windows... Dual-boot your system. Take 8 or 10 GB and try a few different distros.
    That's what I did. And I used Windows less and less, until I just wiped it for the free space.
    Haven't looked back since!

    New users, read this first.
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    I do not respond to private messages asking for Linux help. Please keep it on the public boards.

  7. #6
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Either at home or at work or down the pub
    There are three ways of trying Linux; each with advantages and disadvantages.

    1. Live CDs
    Advantages: Simple, has no effect on your drive and runs on your real hardware
    Disadvantages: Can be slow

    2. Virtual Machines
    Advantages: Doesn't touch your hard drive (except as a virtual file), on modern hardware very fast.
    Disadvantages: Doesn't run on your real hardware so you can't test compatibility.

    3. Dual boot
    Advantages: Full install, runs on your real hardware at full speed.
    Disadvantages: Requires partitioning and while that is mostly safe these days there is always the chance of power cuts, unexpected pets and fumble fingers.

    If you try out dual booting and you have a PC that requires you to make a recovery CD, do so before messing with the partition table and also back up any data you couldn't live without. Better safe than sorry after all ^_^ I would try a few distros (have a look at DistroWatch. any of the top 10 - 15 should do) and then you may be able to answer your own question.

    One caveat; if you play a lot of Windows games then it is going to be Windows all the way.
    Should you be sitting wondering,
    Which Batman is the best,
    There's only one true answer my friend,
    It's Adam Bloody West!

    The Fifth Continent

  8. #7


    thanks for the advice. I actually have Linux installed on a separate hard drive that I took out of my old HP computer from 2007. Its has 250GB of space, and If it were damaged I don't think I would be able to run Linux on it. Anyways I really like what Mint has done with having so much software out of the box. My main problem in letting go of windows is not so much the operating system but its applications. For example I love notepad++, and visual studio so much more than their Linux alternatives, gedit, and CodeBlocks. Ive been checking out Fedora because it looks so damn good, I might give that a try or maybe Linux Mint 12. I love having all these options but its just hard letting of those native windows apps Ive grown so used to. Another application native to windows would be e-sword, which has an alternative called xphios(really not that good). But I will consider exploring more distros, I am a little concerned about leaving a Debian based distro like Mint/Ubuntu because I herd getting software would than become more difficult to get because of RPM files or something. Anyways thanks for your input maybe I will find a distro that makes leaving windows all that much easier.

  9. #8
    dunno what the big deal is here (but hear about it alot), i use whatever works and makes life easier

    after ~ 5 years, i have no plans to leave win anytime soon,

    and there are no better folks who can help win refugees,

    staying with win makes linux easier for me,

    i use mainly both at the same time and go back and forth

  10. #9
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    I can be found either 40 miles west of Chicago, in Chicago, or in a galaxy far, far away.
    There is, IMO, proprietary (closed source, or licensed source) software, and then there is open source (free) software. One you pay for or license for a fee - updates are only available by subscription (usually), and the ability to modify the source code to either fix bugs or adapt to your needs depends upon whether or not the provider will sell/license you the source code. The other you get for free, and the source code is freely available for you to modify to suit your needs.

    So, the short answer to your question is NO. Open source is NOT in any conceivable manner, a subset of proprietary software. Some open source software started out as proprietary, but not a lot. Perhaps the most well known example of that would be the database Postgres (open source) that originally started out as Ingres (still proprietary) in that the original authors of Ingres re-engineered the system as Postgres. FWIW, Postgres is probably one of the most powerful/reliable relational/post-relational databases out there, comparable to (and to some minds, far superior to) Oracle. Certainly, for enterprise database applications, Postgres is preferable to MySQL (just my opinion as a relational database expert w/ 30+ years in the field).
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  11. #10
    Linux Newbie SL6-A1000's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    @ DEdesigns57: I think you run into the same misconception a lot of people do. In terms of Windows and Linux and which is your primary OS, it does not matter! (I can't emphasize it enough) There is no law stating that you can't run both and have both Linux and Windows as your primary OS.

    As i have said in other topics, there is nothing to wrong with Windows or Linux for that matter. Both are awesome in there own right. I run Windows currently 7 & 8 Developer Preview, and i absolutely love both of them (8 slightly more, its just awesome) as well as Linux and Solaris. On a today to today basis i tend to use Windows for games, movies & music, and Solaris & Linux for Work, unless i need proprietary software only available to Windows.

    If it was me, i would keep Windows and run visual studio to do my video editing and Linux for everything else, if that's what you want.

    Don't fall into the trap of thinking in order to fit in i must follow the stereotype for either OS, cause its not true.

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