Just a general question in relation to RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and the GPL.
You cannot download an ISO for RHEL, you have to purchase the product to get this. That's fine, the GPL gives them flexibility to do this, as long as they provide the source code (which you can download from RH mirrors).
In the RHEL FAQ: http://www.redhat.com/software/rhel/faq/
Q. You mentioned licensing - what does this mean? I thought Linux was free.
A. Except for a few components provided by third parties (for example, Java) all the code in Red Hat products is open source and licensed under the GPL (or a similar license, such as the LGPL). So you always have free access to the source code. In fact you can download it from our FTP servers at any time. However, Red Hat does not provide free access to the binaries of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and these, combined with an annual subscription to Red Hat Network, access to upgrades, and a selected support services, are the components that Red Hat bundles into each Red Hat Enterprise Linux solution. Since every Red Hat Enterprise Linux product includes support for the system on which it is installed, Red Hat supplies the products with a per-system usage/support subscription. This simple model ensures that systems which useRed Hat Enterprise Linux are able to access the maintenance, services and product upgrades to which they are entitled. Of course, as mentioned before, this has no impact on your access to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux source code.
The GPL: http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:
a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above
4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.
6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License.
So, now that we have the facts, my questions are:
1. I concede that RedHat can license access to their support & update services (and prevent me from accessing these if I don't have a valid "license" to use them). Can they license me to NOT install RHEL on multiple machines, once I have a copy of the install disks (ie. purchase one copy of RHEL and install onto multiple machines) ?
2. If they can, how so ?
3. If they can't, how can I convince RH of this ?
4. Is there some other license that RHEL is governed by (I haven't had a look at a copy, so I don't know) ?
You might be wondering why I bother, when the actual cost of RHEL isn't too much (it's more than RH subscriptions were previously, but still not too much), well, I'm looking at running it on an IBM as/400 (iSeries) and I can run up to 20 virtual linux partitions on our box and I sure as hell don't want to purchase 20 copies of RHEL at AU$3300 each. The other reason for asking is that at the moment I actually just want to try it out and need to know if I can just get a copy of the CD's from someone who already has purchased the RHEL iSeries distro.
If I ask RH, they say "NO !" which is understandable, as they want to sell more copies of RHEL, hence why I am asking this question here. I realise the comments I get will tend to be against the RH position, but try not to get too emotional please ;)
(and the points is a random number I picked, I was getting sick of all these nice "even" 250 or 500 point Q's ;)