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Is open source software really free?

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When it comes to FOSS, or Free Open Source Software, the general conception is that it’s available at absolutely no cost to you. But is it really?

That depends on a lot of things actually. The true cost of FOSS is actually dependent on a much larger and more complex array of economical factors than most people realize. In the end, the cost of FOSS goes far beyond the standard money you see change hands, and the true costs may surprise you.

First off, let’s look at you. If you’re a standard citizen of the net, currently reading this page online in your favorite browser, then you’re already liking paying a fee for that access. A few of you might even say, “Well, I’m actually not paying for internet. I’m getting it free from the library or college or a friend’s house.” Alright, fair enough. But if you are, you’re still paying for that access in either some tangible, or non-tangible form. Since there’s a thousand possible ways that you’re accessing the internet for free, I’ll touch on just a few of the biggest.

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