October 10, 2002

Linux.com matches Microsoft software donation offers!

- By Robin "Roblimo" Miller -
If your school, charity or government agency is suddenly graced with a visit by Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer offering to donate a free operating system or desktop office software, Linux.com will match that offer. Our software offer has no strings attached to it whatsoever. You don't need to start paying for upgrades after a few years or anything like that. Too good to be true? Bill and Steve might think so, but we don't!

To begin with, we'd like to offer you a complete Linux operating system absolutely free. In fact, we'll offer you a choice of many different Linux versions, not just one product. Go to this server, pick your favorite, and download away.

But you'd better hurry. This offer is only good until ... well, for the rest of this century, anyway, and probably well beyond that (assuming the human race and the Internet and ibiblio.org all last that long).

Free registration

To register your copy of your chosen Linux distribution, all you have to do is mutter "free as in free beer and free as in free speech" under your breath while it installs. Simple, eh?

Heck, you can even skip the muttering and we won't tell anyone. Can Microsoft beat that offer with "free" Windows? Can you just install it and let it rip? Or do you need to have some sort of insanely long Secret Passcode and agree to a long user agreement written in lawyer-talk before you can use your "free" Windows? If you need to click "I agree" and input a Secret Passcode, you need to check how you define "free."

While we're on this subject, you may want to ask Microsoft if you can copy your "free" Windows CDs and install Windows on any additional computers that get donated to your organization. No? That doesn't sound very free, does it?

Well, we here at Linux.com hereby grant you unlimited rights to copy and redistribute any GPL software you want, including Linux. That, my friend, is what "free" means. And if you decide to use GPL software without our specific permission, you still have those rights.

Free office software!

But wait! There's more! That's right, we're not only going to give you, absolutely free, a world-class computer operating system renowned for its reliability and security features, but we'll throw in a complete set of office software you can use to create and edit documents of all kinds -- from business cards to books -- manipulate spreadsheets, create and edit drawings and photographs, and even use to make and present slide shows with animated graphics and special effects.

You can get your free office software directly from OpenOffice.org. Tell 'em Linux.com sent you and you'll get a free pat on the back, over and above everything else we're offering. Unbeatable!

Once you download and install your office software, you can join any one of a number of email lists where you can get free technical support. (You can learn more about these lists from the same Web site where you got the free office software.) What's more, you may suggest improvements to the software directly to the people who develop it through these very same email lists.

Go ask Microsoft if you can talk directly to the software engineers who work on MS Office. Ha!

And did I mention that these OpenOffice.org support services don't cost a dime? And that you don't need to fill out complicated online forms and give your corporate fax number to aggressive salespeople before you can use them?

Other Open Source software

You need a Web browser, you've got a Web browser. Want solitaire and other cool little games? Included. Cool text and HTML editors? At your fingertips. Want to play music? Rock on! Do graphics creation and editing, from simple to complicated? Go for it. Need firewalls and networking features? Yours for the asking, no charge. And there's lots more ... look at a Web site called freshmeat for a seemingly endless list of software you can use with Linux -- most of it free.

What about professional support?

Sometimes it's best to hire a professional to help your organization get started with a new operating system and new software. This part of Linux is not free. But you can usually find someone local to help you by going to your local Linux User Group -- and that user group will also be full of people who will probably answer questions for free (if you ask nicely) if you prefer to do your own work.

Whether or not to go the professional route with Linux is purely up to you. Some do, and some don't. One good thing to note is that, what with Linux being free, you will find that many people have learned a great deal about how to deploy and network it on their own, and have gotten certificates or college degrees later. As you can imagine, the kind of person who is passionate enough about Linux to stay up nights learning to work with it out of love for the code itself is going to make a great consultant for you -- especially if that person also has solid professional administration experience and a good grounding in computer theory, as many skilled Linux people do.

Double your money back!

Now, to clinch the deal, Linux.com is going to make an extraordinary offer to you: If, after reading this article, you download any free Linux distribution or free Linux software it links to, and you are not satisfied with it, we will not only refund all the money you paid in licensing fees, but will give you double that amount, no questions asked.

Anyone care to compete with this offer? Bill? Steve?

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