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Re: RHEL Licensing question



On 4/28/05, Johannes Findeisen <mailman hanez org> wrote:
> i have a problem on finding the licensing information for the Red Hat
> Enterprise Linux Software. Is this software free? Okay, i know the packages
> must be free but are there Tools in the package that aren't free?

The reason that finding licensing terms is so hard to find is simply
due to the fact that's it's almost all open/free source. RHEL, like most
Linux/GNU-based distributions, is mostly a collection of hundreds of
individual programs written by thousands of authors (e.g., copyright
holders).  So there is in fact no "single" license to a Linux system;
and since Red Hat is not the sole copyright holder, they can not even
make one up if they wanted.  Hence why they only refer you to read
the individual licenses for each software component.

On the good news, RHEL is almost entirely open source and GNU
or at least GNU-compatible.  And in fact Red Hat does provide the
source code to all the free parts (as in freedom) completely free
(as in beer).  So what you are paying for is mainly two things: the
precompiled binaries (versus just source), and all the direct support.
On the minor side, you also "get" the non-free stuff; which is
primarily just all the Red Hat trademarked "branding" - the name,
the logos, etc.

Other repackaged distros like CentOS and WhiteBox take the source
and compile the binaries for you; so it removes much of the burden.
But you still don't get direct support and you have to trust that the
those distros don't goof (e.g., have quality control) and stay around
and produce patches/updates on a timely maner.  CentOS is IMHO
the best such repackaged distro at this time.

CentOS in particular tries to produce as nearly 100% binary compatible
distro as legally possible; which means that the only significant changes
are the replacement of all the Red Hat trademarks and logos, and
the replacement of the RHN patch update system with a yum-based
update system.  Oh, and that the RPM's are signed by the CentOS
builders and not Red Hat.

> Or could i download the _30_day_trial_, install it on a customers server and
> let it run for some month? Okay thats a bad idea because i don't will get
> updates but thats not my question... ;-)

I'd recommend CentOS for this sort of thing.  It is so close to virgin RHEL
that should customers decide at some point they want RHEL for the
support and peace-of-mind, that there should be almost no technical
surprises.  I in fact run both RHEL and CentOS; paying for RHEL where
it's needed for heavy production systems or systems that require third-party
support (such as from Oracle); and CentOS on all the testing and secondary
systems.


Also, paying for RHEL does get you one intangible benifit too.  It keeps
Red Hat funded, which despite your distro or anti-corporate biases, RH
does directly fund and/or provide the people that actually do a lot of the
really hard coding in Linux systems....kernel and elsewhere...which helps
ALL distros and keeps Linux moving forward.
-- 
Deron Meranda


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