Linux & Open SOurce Licensing

Posted on 2004-11-24
Last Modified: 2013-12-15
This is a question about the licensing aspects of Linux. I wasn't sure whether to post it here or under the Administration sub topic.

Well, basically the enquiry is about Open Source & the GNU license.

As a newbie, I understand that Linux is free to download and free to use right?

But let's say I wanted to set up a business with a Linux server and a few Linux desktops for my staff.

Would this violate the GNU license? I mean is open source also applicable to commercial use? If so, why would anyone consider puchasing Redhat Enterprise Server or SuSE Linux Server.

I appreciate that some thrid party software is bundled in these packages and also they provide technical support.

But, if the idea is to set up a business on an alternate platform, it is obvious that my staff would be thoroughly trained to work in a Linux platform.

So why would I pay Redhat or SuSE for technical support after PAYING to get my staff trained ?

With regards to thrid party software, the Linux downloadble OS from different websites all come with hundreds of alternatives of the same application. I mean Adobe creates Acrobat. But I have found Xpdf for example in SuSE Linux, Mandrake etc.

Open Office is another example for a free office suite.

So, are these software free just for home use, or does the GNU license apply to commercial use as well?

Thanks for your time
Question by:arlcr
    LVL 38

    Accepted Solution

    > open source also applicable to commercial use
    Yes, but not modify the source codes and sell it. Use it for commercial purpose is ok.

    > why would anyone consider puchasing Redhat Enterprise Server or SuSE Linux Server
    People buy their service, not the source code.

    > pay Redhat or SuSE for technical support
    How about security patches, bug fix and update? Those are not esay to train.
    Most of trainings are for operation, not for code editing or bug fix.
    Like MCSE, it's training people to use Windows, not to write programs or applications.

    > GNU license apply to commercial
    The same, not for modifying the source codes and then sell it.

    Please read the the following URL for more details:

    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    >>Yes, but not modify the source codes and sell it. Use it for commercial purpose is ok.

    AFAIK , you can modify and sell it too , as long as you hand down the modified source code too and the license too


     Does the GPL require that source code of modified versions be posted to the public?
        The GPL does not require you to release your modified version. You are free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing them. This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an organization can make a modified version and use it internally without ever releasing it outside the organization.

        But if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the GPL requires you to make the modified source code available to the program's users, under the GPL.

        Thus, the GPL gives permission to release the modified program in certain ways, and not in other ways; but the decision of whether to release it is up to you.

    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    Hi avizit,

    You're right, I forget to mention "make the modified source code available to the program's users, under the GPL". However, most of private copyright software don't make their codes available to public.

    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    This question's been answered, but just to add to it - I've setup several small businesses on opensource/linux solutions, and the last 2 full time jobs ive had I've introduced them to the wonders of opensource.  In fact, with the place im with now, we're about to have more linux than windows servers and i've only been here a few months.

    Companies selling modified opensource code that you may have heard of: Linksys, Sveasoft, Codeweavers.. - look at the bottom, it's Tux!

    The reason Redhat and Suse sell:

    From a salesperson perspective - because they can.  They're the only two linux's that can be sold for money.
    From a purchaser's perspective - assuming its not because the salesperson did his job, its for the support as somebody mentioned.  Many company's dont like the idea of not having somebody to blame, because there sure as hell is a better support community for actually getting help.  Steve Balmer of MS actually said "who are you going to blame if linux doesnt work?"  Thats really what he said..its coming down to using their OS because you can blame it for them sucking?  At least they've figured out how to make their most obvious feature something they can sell..

    Have fun with opensource, its good stuff.

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