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I.1 The Free Software Model

The Free Software Model

Probably the best feature of Linux and the GNU utilities in general and Red Hat Linux in particular is that it is distributable under the terms of the GNU Public License (GPL). This feature has allowed research institutions, universities, commercial enterprises, and hackers, to develop and use Red Hat Linux and related technologies co-operatively without fear that their work would someday be controlled and restricted by a commercial vendor.

In short, the GPL changes the model of software development and distribution to one much like the model our Legal system and its industry uses. If a lawyer designs an argument that wins his case in front of the supreme court his reward is not only the fees his client pays him but also the additional clients that his achievement attracts to his practice. The ``argument'' he used becomes available for any other lawyer to use without restriction, and in fact becomes part of our collective legal heritage.

This new model is already a new industry with companies like Cygnus Support (see http://www.cygnus.com) becoming multi-million dollar enterprises on the basis of providing support and services for large commercial users of GPL'd and other ``freely distributable'' software. Red Hat Software, Inc.'s rapid growth is based, similarly, on our development and support of the Red Hat Linux distribution, a product that we distribute worldwide on CD and over the Internet under the terms of the GPL.

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