There are multiple operating systems out there available for a number of platforms, or systems, to run. The most popular of which, is Microsoft Windows. As we all know, Windows is not a free program and Microsoft is trying to instill a subscription fee to use Microsoft products. For years, the money hungry corporation has left many people searching for an alternative. In comes Linux. Linux is a UNIX based platform that uses the GNU General Public License. Linux is a very popular platform for a multitude of reasons, but above all else, it’s because it’s a free platform that has become what it is now due to GNU. The purpose of this paper is not, in fact, to speak about Linux, Windows, or any other operating system, but to talk about what the GNU public license is, and it’s role in information technology today.
So what is the GNU public license? According to “GNU Operating System” (2007), “The GNU General Public License is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works.” (Preamble). What does this mean? Well, a copyright license for software, or any other type of works, are designed to take away the freedom of developers to share or change the software or work licensed. For example, Microsoft has a license agreement that prevents you from doing any modifications to any of their software, and stipulates any fees or distributions with that software. The exact opposite is true for the GNU General Public License as its intentions is to guarantee your freedom to modify and share any and all versions of a program or software covered by the GNU. This, in turn, ensures the software, or works, will remain free for all of its users.
The GNU Public Licenses are designed to enable individuals the right to freely distribute copies of the free software, with provided source code, that you can modify and charge for if you like. If you modify it, add your own source coding to enhance or individualize the program, you have the right to charge for the software. You can also use parts, or all, of the coding from these software applications in new free programs.
In order to protect your rights, the GNU prevents others from denying, or forcing you to relinquish any rights you have to the software. Now, with that being said, if you wish to distribute copies of the software, modify it, or sell it, you will need to comply with certain responsibilities to respect the freedom of other potential users of this software. So, if you decide to distribute copies of a program you’ve been working on under the GNU, free or otherwise, you should pass on the same rights to others that you received yourself. This means you need to make the source code available for those just as it was made available for you.
Developers using the GNU general public license protect your rights in two ways. This is done by asserting a copyright on the software, as well as offering you access to this license to legally give you permission to modify, copy or distribute it. On the same note, for the author or developers’ protection, the GPL states there is no warranty to cover any software obtained under the GNU. For the protection of the developers, or any authors, the GPL requires that any modified versions must be marked as changed, so that any potential problems will not be attributed mistakenly to any previous developers.
Finally, software patents constantly threaten all programs. To ensure their protection, the GPL assures that all patents cannot be used to render any program as non-free.
The GNU general public license is a remarkable agreement giving many developers the free reign to modify and personalize software that they did not originally develop. This allows businesses the right to customize programs to fit their needs, and not be liable for any wrongdoing by modifying the original software. I am a huge fan of the GNU, and highly recommend you look into the use of GNU software as well.
GNU Operating System. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html Stalling, W. (2012). Operating Systems: Internals and Design Principles (7th ed.). Retrieved from https://newclassroom3.phoenix.edu/Classroom/#/contextid/OSIRIS:44214502/context/co/view/activityDetails/activity/987e268c-c478-4f85-ab08-ea8d45bb90a3/expan