Re: Is there a free Linux OS?
From: Scruffy Eagle (this_cant_at_be.spammed)
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 00:04:01 -0600
"Tammy Fontenot" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
> I am thinking about getting Linux as an OS. I thought Linux was free, if
> is where can I download it at?
> Tammy aka TheYellowShoe
Yes, most Linux is freeware - but, there are also versions made by companies
as commercial products. Usually, the commercial items are spin-off's of some
freeware item. Red Hat did this, and so have others. The freeware continues
to evolve & develop new variants, (more or less) ignoring the commercial
items as irrelevant to the free OS endeavor.
I think the primary leader of the freeware field is Debian. I chose to stick
w/ that, because they're very scrupulous to make sure that everything they
include in their distribution is unencumbered by economic & legal claims.
Debian is also (arguably) the most capable & user-friendly of the freeware
Most of the freeware distro's are available for download as either entire
ISO CD images, or as source files which you would then process to make the
binaries you need (building your own). The sources of this stuff is easy to
find, with simple searches on Google. For example, search for the term
"download Debian FTP". You'll see what I mean.
I think you should choose to do what I did: Select a vendor of CD sets, and
buy a copy. Doing this, you're not paying for the software, per se - what
you're paying for, is the service being provided by the people selling you
the disks. In other words, such people have to devote computer & CD burner
time to making the disk, tying up system resources for the duration (or have
purchased special CD-burning equipment that can do it independantly). Such
people need to purchase the CD necessary for holding the distro files. They
need to devote the time & resources to making sure that each CD was
correctly produced. They need to pay for postage, and the time spent
packaging the disks. It all adds up - and, if you can buy a 7-CD set of the
"Woody" (currently authorized-as-stable version) Debian distro for $14.00,
isn't that one heck of a deal? I purchased my set from
The alternative is spending a massive amount of connection time downloading
entire CD images. It's huge, even if you've got a high-speed connection. I
don't know what the actual ISO image sizes are, but as a rough starting
point for estimating, consider that 7 CD's x 700 MB = 4.9 GB.
There's a massive amount of documentation available for it; not only out
here on the web, but also included in the Woody distro set. I've been
working or reading the stuff for weeks now, and am nowhere near through it.
P.S. : I also bought a copy of Knoppix Live File System. It's a really good,
inexpnsive way to "get your feet wet" w/ Linux. It can run entirely off CD,
not requiring any use of the HD. If you install it onto your HD, though, you
discover that it's based on a very new version of Debian which isn't
considered stable & bug-free. There's an online forum devoted to it, but
most of the people attending the forum are newbies who can't really answer
each others' questions. In the end, it comes back to "RTFM" - "read the
fuc*ing manual". (Which, of course, is what I'm currently working on - and
testing what I read, on the spare computer I've devoted to the task.)
Knowledgeable support for Knoppix is thin,... Knowledgeable support for
Debian is extensive, and easily acquired. I advise, do what I did - buy
both. Knoppix for playing with ($1.99 plus S&H at
http://www.linuxcd.org/view_distro.php?id_distro=17 ), and Woody Debian for
learning with ($14.50 cost + 4.00 S&H at http://aboutdebian.com ).
AboutDebian.com also sells Corel Linux v1.2 (1 CD) for $1.95. My copy of it
hasn't arrived yet, so I can't tell you more about it, other than that it's
a desktop-focused version for single users.