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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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Television remote control
(Pictured left: A typical firmware-controlled device, a television remote control. Consumer products like this have been using firmware since the 1970s.)

In electronic systems and computing, firmware is a term often used to denote the fixed, usually rather small, programs and/or data structures that internally control various electronic devices. Typical examples of devices containing firmware range from end-user products such as remote controls or calculators, through computer parts and devices like hard disks, keyboards, TFT screens or memory cards, all the way to scientific instrumentation and industrial robotics. Also more complex consumer devices, such as mobile phones, digital cameras, synthesizers, etc., contain firmware to enable the device's basic operation as well as implementing higher-level functions.

There are no strict boundaries between firmware and software, as both are quite loose descriptive terms. However, the term firmware was originally coined in order to contrast to higher level software which could be changed without replacing a hardware component, and firmware is typically involved with very basic low-level operations without which a device would be completely non-functional. Firmware is also a relative term, as most embedded devices contain firmware at more than one level. Subsystems such as CPUs, flash chips, communication controllers, LCD modules, and so on, have their own (usually fixed) program code and/or microcode, regarded as "part of the hardware" by the higher-level(s) firmware.

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Konqueror is a web browser and file manager that provides file-viewer functionality for file systems such as local files, files on a remote ftp server and files in a disk image. Konqueror, along with the rest of the components in the KDEBase package, is free software licensed and distributed under the GNU General Public License version 2.

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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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A solid working knowledge of productivity software and other IT tools has become a basic foundation for success in virtually any career. Beyond that, however, I don't think you can overemphasise the importance of having a good background in maths and science.

Bill Gates, "Bill Gates: The skills you need to succeed". BBC News. 14 December 2007. 

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...that BIOS software is built into personal computers, and is a type of system software?
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