Is Linux Really Free? Well

Linux has been touted as being a “free” operating system, and indeed it is. You can FREELY download a copy of Linux, install and manage it yourself. However, this does not include support or anything else. For a company wanting to use Linux, it might be best to purchase a commercial version of Linux that includes support and/or work with a technology consultant.

Forbes writes How could “free” Linux cost more than Windows? First of all, Red Hat (nasdaq: RHAT – news – people ), the leading Linux distributor, now charges $799 to $2,499 for each server running Linux. That’s not for the software, mind you, but for “maintenance.” Semantics aside, you’re paying for Linux.
Add in the cost of retraining users and IT staff, rewriting applications to run on Linux, and the cost of paying separately for programs like application servers, Web servers and directories (which come bundled with Windows). You also may need to pay consultants to stitch the pieces together, and you might need to buy insurance to protect you against lawsuits over intellectual property rights. (One outfit hawks such policies for $150,000 year.)