|Frequently Asked Questions||| Print ||
'Free' can mean many things. In this case, 'free software' refers to three qualities. First, most versions of Linux and its associated programs are available free over the Internet. They can be downloaded on to any computer with an Internet connection and a web browser. Secondly, they are free to use. There are no registration fees, there are no nagging reminders to pay, there is no risk of a visit from the police or any investigating body looking into unauthorised use of software. And finally, the software is free for you to modify. If you are willing and able to open the bonnet and tinker with the settings for any of the software that goes into or comes with Linux, you are quite at liberty to do so, provided that anyone you give it away or sell it to can do the same thing. That's what's meant by 'free'.
Of course the cost of Windows and its associated software is relatively small for a single computer; but for small businesses and even home offices which may have three or more computers installed, those costs mount up.
There are thousands of people working on Linux software with all kinds of motivations. Some are employed to do it as part of their daily work, and benefit the community by sharing the results with other people. Some hope to establish a reputation which will make them more employable or more highly paid in the future. Some do it for fun. Some are trying to establish a market for their services or add-on products. Some are taking part in code-writing competitions sponsored by donations. Some are paid by philanthropic organizations like the Ubuntu Project.
'Linux' is a huge worldwide group of loosely-connected people and groups. If one or more of these shuts down, it may mean a slowdown in development for that particular branch or that particular program, but it is unlikely to put an end to the whole system. Even if Linus Torvalds retured, someone else would be ready to take over development of the kernel. Linux is far less vulnerable to economic conditions or changes in public attitudes than a single monolithic company like Microsoft or Apple. Right now Linux users are growing rapidly in numbers, so a major slowdown in the near future is improbable.
Generally Linux software is just as easy to learn and use as Windows or Macintosh software. There's nothing to stop you working through it and learning it all yourself -- if you have the time. Our training and mentoring service is designed to save you money in the long run by saving you time in acquiring, setting up and mastering the Linux programs you need to know for your work or business. There is no reason why Linux training up to a given level of skill should cost more or take longer than Windows training to the same level. And training for a small group or classroom is cheaper per head than individual tuition.
Linux applications software is generally designed to work in the same way as the applications which form the industry standard -- usually Microsoft and Adobe. There are differences, but these are relatively minor. If you can already use Windows software you should have no difficulty using Linux applications software.
Of course, if you don't like the way your current software works, then you may be able to find Linux programs that suit you better. Linux software designers are always open to suggestions and proposals for improvement.