Software licensing is an important issue for all computer users and can entail moral, legal, and financial considerations. Many consumers think that purchasing a copy of a commercial or proprietary operating system, productivity application, utility, or game conveys ownership, but this is not true. In the majority of cases, the end user license agreement (EULA) included with a commercial software package states that you have paid only for the right to use the software according to specific terms. This generally means you may not examine, make copies, share, resell, or transfer ownership of the software package. More onerous software licenses enforce terms that preclude you from distributing or publishing comparative performance reviews of the software. Even more insidious licensing schemes (and supporting legislation, especially in the United States) contain provisions allowing onsite auditing of the software's use!
This is not the case with the software included with this book. You are entirely free to make copies, share them with friends, and install the software on as many computers as you wantwe encourage you to purchase additional copies of this book to give as gifts, however. Be sure to read the README file on the disc included with this book for important information regarding the included software and disk contents. After you install Ubuntu, go to http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html to find a copy of the GNU GPL. You will see that the GPL provides unrestricted freedom to use, duplicate, share, study, modify, improve, and even sell the software.
You can put your copy of Ubuntu to work right away in your home or at your place of business without worrying about software licensing, per-seat workstation or client licenses, software auditing, royalty payments, or any other type of payments to third parties. However, be aware that although much of the software included with Ubuntu is licensed under the GPL, some packages on this book's disc are licensed under other terms. There is a variety of related software licenses, and many software packages fall under a broad definition known as open source. Some of these include the Artistic License, the BSD License, the Mozilla Public License, and the Q Public License.
For additional information about the various GNU software licenses, browse to http://www.gnu.org/. For a definition of open-source and licensing guidelines, along with links to the terms of nearly three dozen open-source licenses, browse to http://www.opensource.org/.
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