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Free and Open Source software are of vital significance in today's business world.  Sealand believes in and supports their use.  Yet Sealand is a business, and how does a business trade in something that is described as free?  Well, we won't bore you much with our own explanations because there is plenty of information on the web for those who would wish to research it, and we have put just a few useful links in this section.  Please note carefully that "Free Software" and "Open Source Software" are not the same thing, although there is a significant overlap and the two concepts live well together (in some people's opinion).

This area is the subject of much debate.  A major cause of this is that one of the understandings of the word “free” in English is “free of charge”, whereas when used in the term “Free software” it actually refers to “liberty”.  A phrase frequently used to highlight this is, “Free as in freedom, not as in beer.”  For this reason, it is popular to use the French “libre” which has no such ambiguity, hence the acronym FLOSS, meaning “Free/Libre and Open Source Software".

Definitions, philosophy and standards

W3C www.w3.org

The World Wide Web Consortium.  Manages all of the open standards that are used to make the Web work.

GNU www.gnu.org – GNU's Not Unix

A project that set out to create a complete operating system and its utilities and applications to replace the Unix system with fully Free and Open software.  The GNU project is not complete - the kernel is still not ready for use, but the Linux kernel is an ideal substitute and so-called Linux distributions use the Linux kernel packaged with the GNU utilities and compilers, which is why the proper name for these systems is GNU/Linux.

GPL www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html and gplv3.fsf.org

The GNU Public Licence covers the GNU project and the Linux kernel and a great deal more beside.  It is the most important of the Free and Open Source licences.

Kernel www.kernel.org

This is where the Linux kernel itself is developed.

GNU/Linux distributions

Red Hat www.redhat.com

One of the foremost commercially-used distributions.  Sold with business-level support included.

Centos www.centos.org

A freely available distribution based upon Red Hat's Enterprise product, but of course you support it yourself.

Novell SuSE www.suse.com

Originally a popular european distribution, probably the leading enterprise one, developed in Germany before the company was bought out by Novell.  SuSE Linux Enterprise Server goes head to head with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.  There is also a "Professional" SuSE release that is well polished, but priced at a level to be very suitable for the small business.

Mageia www.mageia.org

Originally formed by the combination of the French Mandrake and the Brazilian Conectiva companies, and named Mandriva, with a portfolio of distributions that included offerings optimised for Corporate servers, Corporate desktop and Personal use.  The Mandriva company liquidated, and the project was forked to become Mageia and Open Mandriva (www.openmandriva.org).  We‘ve also been told about a Mandriva information page at www.whoishostingthis.com.

Debian www.uk.debian.org

A particularly community-driven distribution that emphasises the freedom aspect of Free Software and undertakes not to include encumbered components.  Debian tends to be strongly favoured by people who need to make their own distribution or to run special servers.

Knoppix www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en

Known for its special feature of being runnable directly from a CD.  This is called a "Live CD" and can be exceptionally useful for booting machines that will not boot from their internal disks.  An ideal "repair" system that generally "just works".

Ubuntu www.ubuntu.com and www.kubuntu.org

The South African distribution based on Debian that has gained very wide acceptance, particularly because like Knoppix there are "Live CD" images available.

EdUbuntu www.edubuntu.org

An Education-targetted version of Ubuntu.

Popular applications

KDE www.kde.org

KDE and GNOME are the chief free options for graphical desktop management software under X windows.

GNOME www.gnome.org

KDE and GNOME are the chief free options for graphical desktop management software under X windows.

Open Office www.openoffice.org

A major suite of office applications owned by the Oracle corporation and developed by The Apache Software Foundation.  Runs on many systems including Windows and GNU/Linux.

Libre Office www.libreoffice.org

An evolution of Open Office, developed by The Document Foundation.

Firefox www.firefox.com

The highly successful web browser available for Windows, GNU/Linux and other systems.

GIMP www.gimp.org

A very popular image manipulation program.

Companies

Novell www.novell.com

Already listed as the company behind SuSE Linux.

Organisations

FSF www.fsf.org

The Free Software Foundation, established in 1985, promotes the development and use of free software.

The Document Foundation www.documentfoundation.org

The Document Foundation, manages the development of Libre Office.

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This page updated 7 May, 2017.  Please double-check any information before you use it.

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