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  1. #1


    This may sound like a dumb question, but I didn't find a clear answer anywhere on the internet.

    Is Linux Distribution like Red Hat really free?

    Say I have small office, maybe 10 computers. Say I would use Red Hat distro for every computer in my office. I borrowed Red Hat installation CD from my good buddy. Me and people in my office use use Red Hat as an environment for developing some application X, that we market and sell to customers.

    I am making money, while Red Hat didn't get a cent from me, cause RH Linux happens to be free and it is distributed under GPL.

    I don't know, this makes no sense to me. Too good to be true and kind of unfair!

    Of course I dont' have an office nor am I developing application X or Y, otherwise I wouldn't ask this dumb quesion. Help me out guys!

  2. #2
    Linux Newbie
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    USA, Texas
    Redhat doesn't really rely on sales of their distro. They make their money off of services and support.
    [ [ SykkN alloc ] initWithThePowerTo: destroyYouAll ];
    /* Don\'t make me use it! */

  3. #3
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Täby, Sweden
    Exactly. RedHat couldn't even make it non-free if they wanted to, since all the software is developed under the GPL. There's not much that they can do.
    Like sykkn said, RedHat doesn't rely on sales. Since they didn't even create the majority of the software themselves, but basically just assembled it, it didn't cost them very much anyway (compared to M$'s cost for developing Windows, for example). Their whole business idea is to sell support to the people that need it. To do that, they need an operating system that they can actually give support for, and they have chosen Linux as that O/S.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Linux User
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Cardiff, Wales

    The GPL and development

    as i understand it.

    you can use any GPL software for any purpose.

    you can develop programs on RH or any other distro and then sell them for as much as you can.

    However, let's say you're developing a application in C to run on gnome and you use functionality from the GTK toolkit. (the programming libraries provided by the GNU project to make programming easier). then you now get into difficulty as the GTK library is also released under the GPL and your using the source for commercial gain. This is because you are not just using it but linking to it from a programming sense. in essense your program works because it contains components which have been released under the GPL.

    This is why many people now develop in QT (a bit like GTK but different - think KDE). QT is available under both the GPL and commercial license. The GPL can be used to develop free software, and a commercial license can be purchased if you need to sell your stuff.

    Does this clarify the position?

    Anyway, if you aren't a programmer, and don't have a company or software then don't worry. Enjoy the freedom!
    No trees were harmed during the creation of this message. Its made from a blend of elephant tusk and dolphin meat.

  6. #5
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Täby, Sweden
    Actually, GTK is released under the LGPL - Lesser General Public License. It's specially crafted for libraries, since it allows commercial programs to link against it as long as they provide the source code for the actual library. If it links dynamically they don't even have to do that since they don't ship the library.

    If it wasn't for the LGPL, there could be no closed-source software on a Linux system, since every program links to libc.

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