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Free and Non-Free versions of Linux

jskfan asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I would like why there are free and non-free versions of Linux OS.
Do companies use Free or Non-Free, are there any more features or support in non-free.

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Linux is open source  --- FREE

The ones that charge are charging for the "front end" the graphical user interface.
Top Expert 2009
Almost all linux distro are free,

its not free or non free linux , its paying for support or not .

like CEntos, Fedora,Debain, ubuntu

but if you use Redhat 5 or before version then you will have to pay to redhat for support and to download from their server by using up2date or yum

but if you dont pay then you will not get support for them for downloading

LIke we have 4 server , 2 server we paying Redhat for the support , other 2 is running Centos,

its samething only difference is, YOu are gettign all the rpm from redhat directly and they will let you know if there is any update or any security relase and up2date automaticaly will store them into your server from them.

other then that there is not too much different from paid linux or free linux ..

hope it make sense

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Maciej Ssysadmin
I would rather say, that you pay for technical support, rather than for gui.
Ubuntu, gentoo and other have gui, and they are free of charge :)
Linux itself is free.
When you "buy" linux, generally you are buying a support contract for it from the company you purchase it from.  
You may also be buying proprietary software that they have bundled with the OS(and possibly support for said software).

Most large business tend to "buy" it from vendors so that they can get support and any added features that the vendor includes that the buyer may want.

Business that have access to resources that can support the linux OS may opt for a "free" one.
Well,, most companies dont use the linux frontends,, they are command line driven.

The front ends,many of which are free also, offer the same things as linux seeing as they are just front ends, and some extras, like ease of use, preinstalled software, like calculators and games.

The front ends are very much like a windows desktop environment.
Most of the Linux OS's that are purchased, such as Red Hat or SuSE Enterprise, what you are actually paying for is a service/support contract.  In a corporate environment, it may be worth the fees to have access to 24/7 tech support for issues instead of searching online through forums and knowledge bases.  Most of the commecial versions also have a free unsupported version.  For example, Red Hat offers Fedora Linux, SuSE Enterprise has OpenSuse.  Hope this clears things up a bit.
Unbunto is a linux distro and Front end that you can download free and burn a "live" disk. you can boot into from the cd and see what linux and front ends are about. I know alot of guys who use unbuntu live disks to do virus scans on windows drives.

you can get it here if your interested -

Non-free versions of Linux usually are made for specific purposes, some bring special set of tools/programs, some are customized in a certain way to support unique hardware, etc...
  About the system support, there is no way to know for sure how well supported a system is.  Try to talk to people that used the distribution you are interested and ask them their opinion.


Corporates don't like placing their faith in the hands of a community. They want someone to blame/hold their hand. Commercial linux is about a couple of things. The most important of which are:

1) Certification: Vendors certify certain applications to work on commercial Linux distros (like Oracle, SAP, etc)
2) The vendor guarentees support.
3) Probably the most important one: Guarenteed Lifecycle. That is, a commercial vendor will guarentees that they will maintain the distro for a period of time. Usually 5 years. So a corporate customer won't invest large resources into something that will dissapear tommorow.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

I would like to point out that while there are Free and Non-Free versions of linux, the NON-FREE are, in fact, free- but you have to work to use them.  Linux requires the SOURCE to be free, but not a compiled version.  If you want to take the time to compile it yourself, you can get a non-Free version for no direct monetary cost.  CentOS, if I'm not mistaken, IS (essentially) Red Hat Enterprise Linux that someone grabbed the source on and compiled themselves.


linux source code is free and  can be modified, so how come it's not easy to hack?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Because it's free and easily modified and not everyone is evil.  When a bug is found, it's fixed.  Usually pretty quickly.  And even then, if you were doing things with security in mind, you'd first have to get through a firewall.


Does that mean windows is more secure as OS since noone knows the source code?
Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Microsoft would like you to believe that.  And that's a common argument... but tell me... which is a better flavor... chocolate or vanilla?  The point being you can debate this for hours. Maybe it is... maybe it isn't.  Depends on who you ask.  And keep in mind, you can still reverse engineer things - even when you're not LEGALLY suppose to - and when to people hacking windows for malicious purposes play close attention to the law?
No, it means that you know whether its secure or not, because you, and millions of expert developers world wide can see the source code and can as a result quickly fix any security issues. With MS on the other hand, you have to wait for the next virus/bug/hack/.... to occur and then wait for someone who does have the source to fix it, if they feel like doing so, and then still not know what other bugs/security risks were introduced in the process.  Its a vicious cycle. But I'm probably the wrong person to comment, as I like chocolate more than vanilla. And no-one will change that.


hope no one is forgotten
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