Selling Free Software and Giving Away the Profit

Two computer makers and a book seller are getting together to underwrite the packaging and commercial sale of the purest of the several flavors of the free Linux operating system. (Four other companies already offer commercial Linuxes.) Silicon Graphics, VA Linux and O'Reilly and Associates will work together to sell and support Debian Linux through retail channels for under US$20.

The Wall Street Journal ran a brief, un-bylined piece that omitted the nuances of the story. Stephen Shankland, writing for CNET, pointed out that this version of Linux is considered the purest embodiment of the ideals of the open source movement: its every bit and byte is open to inspection and modification. The New York Times coverage by Steve Lohr (also picked up by the San Jose Mercury News) noted that all profits from the venture will go to Software in the Public Interest, a nonprofit group that supports open-source software projects. And Lohr was the only one to tip us on how Debian Linux got is name.

It was developed in 1993 by this guy named Ian, you see, who was married to Debra, Lohr reported with a straight face. http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/10/biztech/articles/12linux.html: Companies Join to Promote a Linux Operating System, New York Times (Registration required.) http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB939697411859401712.htm: Three Firms Team Up to Sell Linux Version at Software Stores, Wall Street Journal (Registration required.) http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-200-850000.html: Three Firms to Boost Traditional Linux Version, News.com http://www.sjmercury.com/svtech/news/breaking/merc/docs/007658.htm: Three Join to Promote Linux System, San Jose Mercury News

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