A lot of people seem to think that any software written for Linux (or GNU/Linux if you are an apostle of Richard Stallman) has to be free since Linux is free. The purpose of this node is to clarify that that is not true.

Upon reading comments some fellow Everytingians posted regarding my recent node entitled When Will Linux be a Good Gaming Platform? I noticed that a lot of people think Linux will not be a good gaming platform because "People can't make money on free software." While this statement is true, I was unable to figure out why a game written for Linux had to be free. It doesn't. Just like music, art, or any other piece of intellectual property, you can copyright any piece of software that you write and sell it for a fee. This is true for software that runs under Linux as well (on the condition that you did not include any GNU or Linux code in your software.)

IMHO, operating systems should be free. Anything you absolutely need to run a computer should be free (and I don't mean price, because I bought all of the copies of Linux that I own; I mean free as in the source is freely available.) However, the software you electively choose to run does not necessarily have to be free. By this I mean games and applications. Sure, it is nice for everything to be free. But as a software developer, it is nice to have food in my stomach. I am of the opinion that if you like a piece of software enough to use it, you should donate to the person or company that wrote it. Unfortunately, not everyone believes this, so companies need to close all or part of their source so they can at least make a dime.

The GPL does not protect software written for Linux, only GNU and Linux themselves. You can code and release software under any licence you want, public or private. So there you have it, Linux software doesn't have to be free.

Once again we see the common misconception. The "Free" that makes linux so great is not the money you save by downloading it off an FTP site, but the availibilty of the uncompiled source code which is included on those site as well. I, personally pay for my distributions for two reasons.

1. I like having a nifty manual explining these distro's installers

2. I like to support linux advancement by giving comapnies a financial reason to improve the OS

I purchase Loki Software's linux ports of games for the same reasons.

You want free games, then go out and commit some time to a number of free linux game projects. Or better yet, open up those wallets, shake the dust of a few bills and give people a little compensation for the hours spent behind a desk coding. It's about the "free" (as in speech) not the "free" (as in beer).

Besides the GPL only requires free distribution for those programs which use the code from other GPLed software. If you write a program that runs on Linux or xBSD etc.. without using any code from those programs, hey you can do with it whatever you like. (although you may not make the extreme Linux-Radicals happy about it).

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