So, someone asked this question, and well, it's being closed, but we have a tag that kind of support asking these questions, as shown in the excerpt:

Questions concerning the terms under which Unix & Linux software can be used and redistributed...

Around the network, the only one that I know of that allow these kind of questions is Programmers.SE with a restricted set of parameters:

Licensing questions on Programmers are limited to general use-cases of software licenses: any specific questions about the legal enforcement of licenses (like, for example, suing people) is off-topic: consult your lawyer instead.

Is our scope similar? Where exactly ends our scope?

3 Answers 3


We have a tag, but that doesn't make all questions about Windows on-topic. Only a very narrow set of Windows questions, having to do with interoperability between Windows and Unix.

Questions about licenses of Unix software are… not so much accepted as tolerated, I would say. Licenses do play an important role in the history of Unix, so we field questions about that. Questions of the form “does license X allow this?” are more iffy: expertise in using and administering unix does not translate into expertise about legal contracts. When such expertise exists, it's almost always about free software license. Questions of the form “which product edition's license allows this?” are a far cry from that. In a company, they would normally be fielded by the lawyer, not by the sysadmin. They're way outside of the fence, and they're usually not answerable without a ton of details about what the asker wants to do.

https://unix.stackexchange.com/q/136767 falls into this last category. It's about business contracts. That's not what we do here. It's off-topic.


My interpretation of the tag is that it concerns the range of free and open source licenses that people would typically encounter in their interactions with U&L software.

The reason I voted to close the question you linked to is because it seems to me to really be asking about the commercial arrangements that RedHat makes with it's customers and partners, not necessarily the particular license that RHEL uses.

Note the question asks:

what licensee of red hat would allow me to distribute images of RHEL to my customers with my software already loaded?

The business of RedHat's commercial arrangements appears to be tangentially related to , but is actually off topic.

  • The question may read “licensee”, but it's probably a spelling error for “license”, because “What Red Hat licensee to get” wouldn't make sense. Jun 13, 2014 at 2:34
  • @Gilles Perhaps: it doesn't fundamentally change the fact that the question is more about RedHat's commercial arrangements than the license per se
    – jasonwryan
    Jun 13, 2014 at 3:31

Note: The linked question is off-topic not because of any problem with the topic, but because is't a question directly for Redhat and Redhat alone; not for a bunch of not-Redhat-employees on the Internet.

As for your title question, "What license should I use" is subjective. It's like "what project should I build," or "what should I have for lunch." There is no right answer ... or at least it's not an objectively right answer. In 100% of cases, the correct answer is: "It depends on your particular desires and intentions." It isn't just primarily opinion-based, it's entirely opinion-based.

A better question is: "What's the difference between 2-clause and 3-clause BSD license?" or "Does GPL license either limit or enhance community involvement?" or "Which OSI-approved license gives me the most control over how derivitive works are distributed?"

Don't ask "which should I choose", ask the questions that will help you decide. That's the close message that needs to be applied to questions like this one.

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