Portal:Software

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Introduction

A diagram showing how the user interacts with application software on a typical desktop computer.The application software layer interfaces with the operating system, which in turn communicates with the hardware. The arrows indicate information flow.

Computer software, or simply software, is a generic term that refers to a collection of data or computer instructions that tell the computer how to work, in contrast to the physical hardware from which the system is built, that actually performs the work. In computer science and software engineering, computer software is all information processed by computer systems, programs and data. Computer software includes computer programs, libraries and related non-executable data, such as online documentation or digital media. Computer hardware and software require each other and neither can be realistically used on its own.

At the lowest level, executable code consists of machine language instructions specific to an individual processor—typically a central processing unit (CPU). A machine language consists of groups of binary values signifying processor instructions that change the state of the computer from its preceding state. For example, an instruction may change the value stored in a particular storage location in the computer—an effect that is not directly observable to the user. An instruction may also (indirectly) cause something to appear on a display of the computer system—a state change which should be visible to the user. The processor carries out the instructions in the order they are provided, unless it is instructed to "jump" to a different instruction, or is interrupted by the operating system.(By now multi-core processors are dominant, where each core can run instructions in order; then, however, each application software runs only on one core by default, but some software has been made to run on many).

The majority of software is written in high-level programming languages that are easier and more efficient for programmers to use because they are closer than machine languages to natural languages. High-level languages are translated into machine language using a compiler or an interpreter or a combination of the two. Software may also be written in a low-level assembly language, which has strong correspondence to the computer's machine language instructions and is translated into machine language using an assembler.

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Spyware is computer software that collects personal information about a user without their informed consent. The term, coined in 1995 but not widely used for another five years, is often used interchangeably with adware and malware (software designed to infiltrate and damage a computer.)

Personal information is secretly recorded with a variety of techniques, including logging keystrokes, recording Internet web browsing history, and scanning documents on the computer's hard disk. Purposes range from overtly criminal (theft of passwords and financial details) to the merely annoying (recording Internet search history for targeted advertising, while consuming computer resources). Spyware collects many different types of information. Some variants attempt to track the websites a user visits and then send this information to an advertising agency. More malicious variants attempt to intercept passwords or credit card numbers as a user enters them into a web form or other application.

The spread of spyware has led to the development of an entire anti-spyware industry. Its products remove or disable existing spyware on the computers they are installed on and prevent its installation. However, a number of companies have incorporated forms of spyware into their products. These programs are not considered malware, but are still spyware as they watch and observe with for advertising purposes. It is somewhat arguable whether such 'legitimate' uses of adware/spyware are malware since the user often has no knowledge of these 'legitimate' programs being installed on his/her computer and is generally unaware that these programs are infringing on his/her privacy. In any case, these programs still use the resources of the host computer without permission.


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Rms ifi large.jpg
Richard Matthew Stallman (born March 16, 1954), often shortened to rms is an American software freedom activist and computer programmer. In September 1983, he launched the GNU Project to create a free Unix-like operating system, and he has been the project's lead architect and organizer. With the launch of the GNU Project, he initiated the free software movement; in October 1985 he founded the Free Software Foundation.

Stallman pioneered the concept of copyleft, and he is the main author of several copyleft licenses including the GNU General Public License, the most widely used free software license. Since the mid-1990s, Stallman has spent most of his time advocating for free software, as well as campaigning against software patents, digital rights management, and what he sees as excessive extension of copyright laws. Stallman has also developed a number of pieces of widely used software, including the original Emacs, the GNU Compiler Collection, the GNU Debugger, and various tools in the GNU coreutils. He co-founded the League for Programming Freedom in 1989.


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Software news

From the Wikinews Software category
  • May 23: Software giant Adobe Systems to acquire Magento Commerce for US$1.68 billion
  • April 9: US Republicans query Linux Foundation about open-source security
  • August 14: Mozilla, Creative Commons, Wikimedia Foundation announce Bassel Khartabil Free Culture fellowship following execution of open culture activist
  • April 8: GNOME to be Ubuntu's default desktop environment, Canonical to stop investing in Ubuntu Phone
  • November 4: Volkswagen emissions scandal may affect thousands more cars
  • September 22: Volkswagen engulfed by diesel emissions scandal
  • January 6: Wikinews interviews on contributions to open-source: Opera
  • April 8: Microsoft to release patches for 64 security flaws on Tuesday
  • March 23: Petition urges Apple to remove 'anti-gay' app
  • March 18: Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 9 browser


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This existing base of FLOSS software represents a lower bound of about 131,000 real person-years of effort that has been devoted exclusively by programmers. As this is mostly by individuals not directly paid for development, it represents a significant gap in national accounts of productivity. Annualised and adjusted for growth this represents at least 800 million euros in voluntary contribution from programmers alone each year, of which nearly half are based in Europe.


Study on the: Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU.

(Note: FLOSS is an acronym for "free, libre and open source software".)

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