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Chapter 1. Introduction > Is Linux Really FREE?

Is Linux Really FREE?

When the discussion of what free means in relation to software, you'll often see the expression “free as in speech” or “free as in beer.” Free, in this case, isn't a question of cost, although you can get a free copy (as in free beer) of Linux and install it on your system without breaking any laws. As Robert A. Heinlein would have said, “There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.” A free download will still cost you connection time on the Internet, disk space, time to burn the CDs, and so on.

Walk into a computer software store and you'll see copies of Mandrake, SuSE, and Red Hat on the shelves, so this free software can also cost you money. On the other hand, those boxed sets come with documentation, support, and CDs that save you time and energy downloading and burning discs. Furthermore, there are boxed sets of varying prices, even within a distribution. For instance, you can buy a Red Hat personal or professional edition. The differences there may be additional software, documentation, or support.


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