Linux: Licensing Facts

Read this post to know about licensing facts of  linux.

In most cases, when you obtain or “buy” software, you really do not own it. Rather, you are granted a license to use the software. The terms of the licensing agreement differ depending on the type of license accompanying the software. To understand software licensing, you should understand the following terms.

Licensing Type Description:

Open Source :: Software that is distributed with the source files.
End users can modify and recompile the software to meet their needs.
Usually developed as a community project.
More specifically, Open Source is a certification mark for software that adheres to the Open Source Initiative standards.

Closed Source :: Software that is distributed without the source files.
Many commercially available software is closed source (such as Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel).

Freeware ::  Software distributed without cost. The software may be
open source or closed source.

Free Software :: Software that is freely distributable, includes the source code, and allows the end user to modify or enhance the software.
Free software may be distributed at a cost. The “free” refers to the freedom of use, not necessarily no cost.

Shareware :: Software that is distributed free of cost on a trial or limited use basis. After the initial use, if you continue to use the software, you are expected to pay a fee for its use.
Shareware is typically closed source software.

Artistic License :: Artistic license is a type of licensing agreement that  allows users to modify and distribute open source software, while still retaining some degree of copyright protection for the work being distributed. The GNU General Public License is one example of an artistic license.


Linux is distributed as Open Source software (meeting OSI standards) under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GNU/GPL provides that:

You are free to use the software and its source code as you want.

You can redistribute the software, even charging a fee for the redistribution.

The package must include the source code or an offer to make the source code available.

The software has no guarantee. You can, however, offer your own guarantee, even charging for this service.

If you modify the software, any modifications must remain unpatented, or, if patented, be made available for everyone’s use.

Go to to read the GNU licensing terms.

You should be aware that using Linux in your organization is not without cost. Although you do not pay for a license for Linux, expect to pay for the following items:

Media containing the software components.

Technical support, automatic updates, and custom utilities.

Installation, maintenance, and system repair.


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