Open Source.

Shouldn’t all software for linux be free ?

It’s all relative and depends what you mean by ‘Linux’ and ‘Free’ or is this just a trick question.

What do you mean by free? Free as in gratis, or free as in libre?

And why should all software be free, in either sense? (Don’t bother answering this question if you are Richard Stallman.)

Shouldn’t all people be happy?

Shouldn’t all software for linux be free ?

No. The C library is LGPL. That makes it perfectly legal to write proprietary software using gcc, as long as you don’t link against any library under the GPL licence (example: readline). You may run this on a kernel using standard system calls. The kernel licence (Linus) says:

NOTE! This copyright does not cover user programs that use kernel services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use of the kernel, and does not fall under the heading of “derived work”.

However, there is a debate whether proprietary (non-OSS) drivers using the kernel headers are violating the GPL. My opinion is: let them do it. It’s still way better to have some proprietary drivers than nothing (ask those users having NVIDIA or ATI cards).

Have you tried gNewSense?

No, neither have I…


[Which isn’t meant to be taken rudely. I think it’s good that they exist. But I think they’d probably admit themselves that they’re a political project, and are not as yet a drop-in substitute for anyone except skilled ideologues]

Linux has been able to run proprietary software for years; when I started using Linux the only office suite was Applix - a very competent piece of software; unfortunately the company lost interest in it thereby providing an opening for StarOffice and then OpenOffice.

Most of the major contributors to Linux like IBM and HP write proprietary software to run with Linux because it makes sense to collaborate on the software which is likely to be common to every device and then make money in the specialist areas where you cannot rely on there being a sufficient community.