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When should one pay for free software?

Posted 09-28-2009 at 04:10 PM by Lufbery

I've been using Slackware Linux since version 11 came out. So, that would be since late 2006. Prior to that, I used a free CD of Ubuntu -- and I just remembered, before that I used a free Knoppix live CD.

So for nearly three years, I've been using Linux (now pretty much full-time at home) and I haven't paid for anything. I figured that this time, I would pay for my upgrade to Slackware 13 -- except that money is very tight right now and the cost of the DVD is somewhat prohibitive. . .

I think the key here is that Pat and the Slackware team put out the software for free without any expectation that users must pay for it to use it. It is perfectly okay to use the software for the rest of my life and never pay for it. At the same time, there's no doubt that it takes time and money to develop and maintain Slackware (and other FOSS software), and that it is in everyone's best interest that developers see some monetary return for their labor. Even beyond enlightened self-interest, however, is something of a moral imperative that I feel to recognize the gift that the Slackware team has given.

I will not be buying the DVD, at least not for this version, but I will be making a donation to the Slackware project. It will be somewhat less than the full cost of the DVD, but quite a bit more than the $1.00 that shows up by default at the Slackware store.
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