Ken Hough's Website
Open source Linux in practice:
The GPL might seem like a recipe for chaos and for someone who doesn't know their way around the world of Linux, this can appear to be the case. There are literally hundreds of different packaged versions of Linux, usually referred to as 'distros'. Many of these have been developed to serve specific purposes (eg Scientific Linux). Distros like Puppy Linux are designed to be compact so as to fit onto and run on small/low powered PCs, but quite a lot of commonly used software is omitted.
Other distros seem be no more than attempts to 'scratch a particular itch' of the author and might not be well supported. These are probably best avoided.
Newcomers to Linux are strongly recommended to consider one of the best known and well supported distros – see below.
Beneath the plethora of distros, there are systems in place that ensure the integrity of Linux itself and of it's development. For example, development and release of updated versions of the Linux kernel is rigorously checked and controlled by a team of highly respected software engineers. At the head of this team is Linus Torvalds who developed the very first Linux kernel.
Anybody is allowed to submit new code for the Linux kernel to the development team. Perhaps it's not surprising that most of these submissions are made by major software users and developers throughout the world. Partly because of this worldwide support, Linux has very good multi-language support.
No financial charge is or can be made for Linux as such, although some distributors do levy a charge for packaging and for technical support of their own commercially orientated distros (eg RED HAT and SUSE). These commercial distros are developed specifically for use in large organisations where stability and software management is of major concern. However, even these distributers provide free versions of their distros (ie Fedora and OpenSUSE) which can serve as test beds for their commercial releases.
The RED HAT company now make over $1 billion dollars per year from installing and supporting their main Linux distro.
At it's heart, Linux remains as open source software that is free and available for use in whatever way (subject only to the GPL) that users wish.