The key thing about this flyer is the audience - probably computer literate, but not educated in the ways of Linux. Also, we don't want to get caught up in various software feuds in a simple flyer, so avoid emacs / vi, KDE / GNOME, Free Software / Open Source, GNU/Linux / Linux type definitions - TonyWhitmore

== Linux and Free Software ===

http://www.neosystem.com/img/tux.png

What is Linux? Linux is the heart of a computer operating system. In 1991 by a Finnish student called Linus Torvalds started writing his own operating system that he called Linux. Soon groups of programmers were working on it over the internet; using, improving, testing, and modifying Linux. These days multinational corporations like IBM and Hewlett-Packard support development of Linux, but it isn't controlled by a single company. Usually, when you install Linux on your computer, it comes with a collection of system tools and essential programs from the GNU project and other sources, so as to make up a complete operating system. It runs on many different types of computers, from powerful mainframes to desktop computers, from laptops to palm-tops. Linux is probably the best known Free Software project.

What is Free Software? Free Software programs are programs for which the source code is available for anyone to inspect, test, improve and distribute. As a result, the software is considered to be more secure and more stable than software where the source code is only available to the company who produces it. An alternative term for Free Sofware is "Open Source Software", and the two terms are sometimes rolled together in the acronyms FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and FLOSS (Free, Libre, and Open Source Software). Any software described using any of these terms allows you to modify and redistribute the source code.

But I'm not interested in programming and source code. You can still benefit from the other advantages of Free Software. Because it is tested by so many people and users can report bugs to Free Software developers, Linux and Free Software provides a stable, flexible and fast computing environment.

Is Free Software like freeware or shareware? Freeware and shareware are not Free Software. You can use freeware programs for free but the distributor doesn't have to provide the source code for the program and you usually don't have the right to modify or redistribute the program. Shareware requires you to pay a licence fee for continued use or to gain access to the full functionality of the software. With Free Software you have much more freedom to control the software that you use than with freeware or shareware.

Somebody mentioned a "distro"? Different people and companies put together different collections of Linux and Free Software called distributions or "distros". Sometimes distributions focus on a specific task (like video editing, for example) but many aim to provide a desktop operating system. You may have heard of RedHat, SUSE, Mandrake or Debian - these are all Linux distributions. They include a desktop environment and a set of programs to get you up and running. There are Free Software word processors, spreadsheets, e-mail and web clients, instant messengers, digital camera tools and graphics packages. Free Software is about choice and giving you the control over your computer.

'''Are you allowed to sell Free Software?'''
Yes, under the terms of the GPL and other Free Software licences you can charge for Free Software. However, on [[InfoPoint]] stands, we only charge enough to cover the cost of duplication and packaging. We're here to provide information and to encourage you to try Free Software; not to make a profit!

What's the penguin all about? The overweight penguin is called Tux and he's the mascot of Linux.

What is a LUG? A LUG is a Linux User Group: People from a town or county that are interested in using Linux and other Free Software. Hampshire LUG consists of a range of people from those who use Linux professionally to those who just want a more secure home computer system. Everyone is welcome to attend meetings, join the mailing list or the IRC channel. See our website at http://www.hants.lug.org.uk for more details.

This leaflet was produced by Hampshire Linux User Group as part of the InfoPoint project.


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What is the GPL? The GNU General Public Licence is the most popular Free Software licence. If you write a piece of software and release it under the GPL, you are giving anyone else the right to use, modify, improve, and redistribute the software as long as they give credit to all other contributors.

Are you allowed to sell Free Software? Yes, under the terms of the GPL and other Free Software licences. It is quite acceptable to sell Free Software, as long as you make the source code for the programs available for the same amount or less. For example, you could charge £10 for a piece of Free Software and then charge £10 for the source code. It's also acceptable, then, for someone else to buy the software and the source code and then post the source code on their own website making it available for free.

On InfoPoint stands, we only charge enough to cover the cost of duplication and packaging. We're here to provide information and to encourage you to try Free Software; not to make a profit!

What is Free Software? Free Software is software that you can use, modify, improve, and redistribute. The word free is used as in "freedom of speech", not necessarily as in "without cost"; you are free to do what you like with the software. In order to be able to modify a program, to add features or fix bugs, you need access to its source code. That's what programmers write - source code is compiled to make "binaries" that you run on your computer. If you receive a piece of software in binary form, you can't change or improve it because you don't have access to the source code.

Because of the importance of the source code to Free Software, an alternative term is "Open Source Software", and the two terms are sometimes rolled together in the acronyms FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and FLOSS (Free, Libre, and Open Source Software). Any software described using any of these terms allows you to modify and redistribute the source code.

You're all Microsoft haters, aren't you! The Free Software community is made up of a range of individuals with a range of attitudes towards Microsoft. Some people strongly dislike Microsoft software for technical reasons, some for moral reasons. Many use Microsoft software every day and use Free Software under Windows.

InfoPoints/LinuxInfoFlyer (last edited 2005-02-16 23:52:18 by 81)