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Old 02-14-2006, 10:55 PM   #1
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Linux with zero licensing cost - possible or not?

In a corporate environment, can we implement a Linux server for hosting web applications, e-mail server, file server, etc with out paying any license fees? In particular, can Red Hat Linux or Suse Linux be implemented?

What type of support options will be available in that case? Can Red Hat or Novell provide support for such installations? Will online updates be available?

Thanks in advance.
Old 02-14-2006, 11:04 PM   #2
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If eg you use RH Fedora Core series, then you can get them free and get updates via the YUM tool whose conf contains relevant sites.
If you want the RH Enterprise series, look at Centos or Whitebox, which are re-badged free versions of RHEL.
They also supply the RH updates.
I believe all the non-commercial distros have similar arrangements to RH FC.
Not sure about eg Novell official Suse releases.
Old 02-15-2006, 04:14 AM   #3
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Suse: you'd want open suse ~>
I assume that you can use it in a corporate environment without any fees, not sure.
Online updates will be available.
It will be unsupported (
Old 02-15-2006, 04:28 AM   #4
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I don't imagine any distro vendors will offer FULL technical support (telephone, call out engineers etc) on their free products, can't see how they'd make a living.

That being said there are plenty of free (no license needed) distros. If you are using this machine to serve all sorts of different functions you are probably not going to need something like Fedora core, it's release cycle for new ones is much quicker than most, and you aren't going to need new apps constantly, something like Debian might be better, rock solid, loads of packages and security updates available when neccesary (but not program updates)

However due to the nature of Linux being created, developed and maintained via the internet, there's a wealth of information on it just a google away

Not to mention this place is a complete life saver (and a great way to learn by reading others posts), my point being you could get all your answers online if you look hard enough

There are red hat certifications/exams that can be taken (dont know about SUSE), so you could assign someone to be the maintainer of the box (your job?)

If i were you i'd set up a test box running parralell to your current system, put up a test site with the capabilities you want, web server etc. then test it to do everything you need, also some load testing if you recieve high amounts of traffic.
Old 02-15-2006, 06:30 AM   #5
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Program updates are always available when using Gentoo. Setting up Gentoo as a server will take a lot less time than setting it up as desktop system.
Old 02-15-2006, 09:33 AM   #6
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Almost all linux is GPL, which means free for user and corporate use. The choice of OS is yours, and there are about 60 distros which would all make good choices depending on what you want out of it, what you want in terms of applications, visual styling, etc etc.
Old 02-15-2006, 11:39 AM   #7
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Licensing fees should be no problem. As has been mentioned, nearly all flavors of Linux are GPL. However, if you are running corporate servers, and want "official" support, you will have to pay for it. RedHat Enterprise Server comes with that support, as does Novell. If you are comfortable providing your own support (including using these forums and Google to help solve problems), then you can go with other "non-commercial" versions, like CentOS, or OpenSuse.
Old 02-15-2006, 12:12 PM   #8
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Given that you are contemplating a deployment into a corporate environment, I would suggest that you not approach it from a "zero licensing cost" perspective.

Within your own initial post, linux4me, you referred to a need for support and updates and so-on, all of which must be paid for somehow because someone is out there doing stuff for you. And furthermore, if you did the same duties "for yourself," guess what ... there is an opportunity cost to be paid, equal to your own effective hourly-rate. Time spent futzing with a computer cannot be billed to customers, and so on.

So, what you really want to find is a fairly turn-key system, ideally that someone can provide and maintain for you (with the willingness to train you or your staff, as well), for a reasonable and predictable monthly or quarterly cost. You should be particularly looking at the contract you can obtain from them, because when it comes right down to it, the most important thing about any computer is the fact that it works.

You might well be able to buy a "distro" which is just such a turn-key system: your requirements are more-or-less the same as those of a sufficient number of other businesses to make the venture profitable. But you should plan to be buying more than just the disks: you need regular updates, someone you can call, maybe someone who can come on-site, and so on. That is the prudent package that you should negotiate.
Old 02-15-2006, 05:05 PM   #9
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Being that I've been on the networking/admin side of the things for a good while I might suggest a different approach. Since you are asking about being able to use it I'll assume you are new to linux. (Welcome, me too Since you are new, I'd simply NOT go all out free. aka zero cost. Atleast not at first. What I'd suggest is putting something like RedHat on your production servers. Why? Well as great as the people here at LQ and other similar sites are, they are here to help and perhaps encourage but RedHat EL comes with a support. (Others like Suse would too.RHEL is what I can speak to) Support not only of packages but of OS support via phone, web, or e-mail depending on the level you purchase. Buy a year ans see how it works out. While I have only neede them a few times it has been at times where I needed to fix something ASAP. I may do this for a year more and see where we are at as a company. Perhaps then I'll tie our selves to free. Perhaps not but either way it is going to cost less per server for OS then MS does and I can call someone to boot.
On your desktops...perhaps less of a priority for that support and a no cost option will work.

Best of Luck!
Old 02-15-2006, 07:31 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by muha
Suse: you'd want open suse ~>
I assume that you can use it in a corporate environment without any fees, not sure.
Online updates will be available.
It will be unsupported (
You can also use the SuSE retail product for free. Download it or copy it from a friend, and distribute unlimited free copies throughout your organization. Their license specifically allows for this (I buy it anyhow - SuSE is well worth it!)
Old 02-15-2006, 07:48 PM   #11
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A school group I am in had to give a speach today in a database class where we needed to design a system for a small hypothetical company and I used freeBSD, MySQL and Apache as the supporting software and OS for what we needed to accomplish for our system. At the end of thr speech was QandA time and I was asked by someone if freeBSD etc* is published under the GNU liscense how could we sell it, my reply was that we are not selling the software we were selling our services to design and implement the system. It made me wonder, I mean I knew I was right in telling him that but it is nice to see a thread about this subject when I was questioned on the same matter today.

ps: I think he was mad our system was going to cost a lot less. :]
Old 02-15-2006, 07:59 PM   #12
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FreeBSD is not under the GPL, it is under the BSD license (or more exactly the FreeBSD license, viewable at Fancy that! )

Oh, and just FYI, you CAN sell GPL code. Lurk on the GPL Violations and GPL Legal lists sometime. This fallacy is often corrected by folks who actually enfore the GPL. Lots of people say you can't sell GPL code/products but you can sell support, blah blah blah, but it's pure BS. You can sell GPL, and the GPL provides specifically for that. You just HAVE to offer to provide the source (and actually supply it if requested) and you CANNOT place restrictions on further redistribution of the code.

Last edited by KimVette; 02-15-2006 at 08:01 PM.
Old 02-15-2006, 08:19 PM   #13
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Awesome, thanks for the info.


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