I just love the hacker culture of Linux.
No doubt you've heard of Red Hat Linux. They are the number one Linux distribution in the United States. Many people mistakingly think that Red Hat is Linux. They think that Red Hat invented Linux and they are the only company that you can get Linux from. This couldn't be farther from the truth.
What many people don't realize is that anyone can sell Linux. In fact anyone can give away Linux for free, and many do. There are many popular Linux distributions, such as Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, and Slackware to name just a few. I will talk about these other Linux distributions in future articles. What do all these Linux distributions have in common? They are all completely free! If you have an Internet connection and a CD burner, you can download any of these distributions and have an operating system on par, or even surpassing Windows for free.
Another, lesser known Linux distribution is CentOS. CentOS is short for the "Community Enterprise Operating System". What is it? It is a completely free clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a commercial product that costs anywhere from $349 to $2499 per PC! The CentOS team has essentially created a free clone of a commercial product, but the kicker is, this is perfectly legal to do so!
The Linux kernel and most of the software included with the Linux distributions is protected by a license called the GNU General Public License (GPL). One of the provisions of this license is that you are free to use any software bearing this license in any way you see fit. The only condition is that if you make any additions or improvements to the software, you must release these changes to the public so they too can make use of it. This freedom means that there is nothing Red Hat can do to stop someone from copying their distribution. They don't own the code!
The members of the Linux community believe that software should be free. Use it however you want. This is a wonderful thing.