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1.4 What are the benefits of Linux?

Linux can give you:

If you wanted to learn first-hand about the General Public License, check these famous GNU documents:




In a nutshell, the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) allows anybody to:

What the GPL license *does not* allow code recipients to do is to take somebody elses software licenced under GPL, modify the software, and then distrubute a this modified version of the software under a propriatory licence. Speaking plainly, the GPL licence just forbids stealing existing (somebody else's) software for incorporation into a closed, commercial-only product. However, you may incorporate GPL software in a commercial computer program if you obtain permission from the copyrigtht holder. GPL is certainly not more restrictive or imposing than a "typical" propriatory licence. GPL is a licence that grants the recipient right which he otherwise does not have, but takes away none. Excluded from the use of GPL are persons who have violated the GPL.

In general, copyright laws regulates 5 rights: to copy the work, to make derivative works, to distribute the work, to perform the work, and to display the work.

Here is a table which contrasts the licence of Linux with that of MS Windows (put together by a RedHat lawyer, based on http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20031231092027900):

Linux MS Windows98

Right to copy the work Yes No

Right to make derivative works Yes No

Right to distribute the work Yes, under the same licence No

Right to perform the work Yes Yes

Right to display the work Yes Yes

The GPL license under which Linux is distributed is probably the most important part of it. It is designed to perpetuate the freedom of information. Other important open-source projects include science and law (hardly a joke). The Linux method is really nothing new--it is simply the application of the scientific method to software: you get information free, you add your ideas and make your living, and finally, you leave it free. However, some big corporations and their lawyers seem to be trying hard to change this, to push us back in time, to the dark ages, when information was kept "proprietary." Hence, you see in newspapers some famous Linux-connected persons involved in all kinds of struggles.

To get a flavour for the value of Linux, here are some prices for commercial software as listed at www.amazon.com. All prices are in $USA, as listed on 2001-02-03, with discounts. Roughly equivalent Linux software is included on almost any Linux CD set (but with no restrictions on the number of clients). In addition, the hardware for Linux is typically significantly less expensive, since Linux can run all services on a single server:

Microsoft Windows 2000 Server (5-client)--$848.99; Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server (5-client)--$1,279.99; Microsoft Outlook 2000 (1-client)--$94.99; Systems Management Server 2.0 (10-Cals)--$994.99; Proxy Server 2.0--$886.99; Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition (5-client)--$1,229.99; Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition (1-user License)--$4,443.99; Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server 4.5 NT (Add-On 5-CAL)--$264.99; Windows NT Server Prod Upgrade From BackOffice SBS Small Bus Server (25-client)--$558.99; Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server Upgrade (25-client)--$3,121.99; Microsoft FrontPage 2000--$129.99; Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server --$664.99; Site Server Commerce 3.0 (25-client)--$4,092.99; Visual C++ 6.0 Professional Edition with Plus Pack--$525.99; Microsoft Visual Basic Enterprise 6.0 with Plus Pack--$1,128.99; Microsoft Visual Sourcesafe 6.0 CD--$469.99; Microsoft Office 2000 Standard (1-client)--$384.99; Adobe Photoshop 6.0--$551.99; Microsoft Plus Game Pack--$19.99.

Linux (and thousands of other programs distributed under GPL) is often described as "free software". The word "free" has two quite different meanings in the English language, and it sometimes leads to misconceptions about the free nature of Linux. These two meanings follow the Latin adjective "liber" and the adverb "gratis," and they are often illustrated with the phrases "free speech" and "free (of charge) beer." Most Linux software is free in both senses, but it is only the first sense which is essential to Linux.

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