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LPI Linux Essentials

1.3 – Understanding Open Source Software and Licensing

By April 17, 2013October 14th, 2016No Comments

This topic although not very practical or hands on is fundamentally important to your understanding into the ethos of “free”. Many of us in the Western world have grown up free, having the liberty to do what we want when we want, living in a very commercial world. To most of us “free” means that there is no cost or charge. For those who haven’t grown up with such liberty in their life, free, would perhaps mean the ability to express their own opinions or dress they way they wish. If you own a computer why would you not want they same level of freedom to be able to choose how software acts on your machine. If you have software why should you be restricted from modifying the way it works or behaves and why should you be restricted in distributing the software to friends. Free software and open source software is more about free as in liberty rather than “gratis.” So we will take a look at some open source licenses:


  • GPL: The GNU Public License covers much of the software in Linux distributions and extremely summarised grants you rights to use and distribute software as you wish, changes you make to the software should be contributed back to the project.
  • BSD : The Berkeley Software Distribution License is currently a 3 clause agreement that allows for redistribution of software provided it includes the original copyright notice.
  • Creative Commons: The creative commons license allow for content creators to be able to collaborate on projects to improve the quality and diversity of content. For example, an illustrator may want to add graphical content to a writer’s book. Incidentally, this material is published under a Creative Commons License so long as changes are also shared.
  • Creative Commons Licence
    LPI Linux Essentials by TheUrbanPenguin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Equally as important as the licenses are the organisations that support the ethos of “free” software and for us, it is important to recognise their work and support them where we can, be it through membership, donations, purchases or simply promoting these organisations with friends and colleagues.

  • The free software foundation: www.fsf.org
  • The Open Source Initiative: opensource.org

Finally, in the supporting video, we will investigate how organisations can make money from open source. With Linux we some of the most profitable organisations like Red Hat who can make their revenue from consulting and support; the reality is there are many ways to make money from open source including as I do on this site, through advertising revenue.