Salon: Making the world safe for free software.

Insurance is crucial for Linux, Egger says. Unlike proprietary software, the free operating system is vulnerable to third-party infringement claims. When large corporations buy applications from proprietary software firms such as Microsoft, they are usually sold rock-solid “indemnification” packages — clauses that let the customer off the hook in the case of any legal question surrounding the software. But it's not the same for Linux, which was written by many developers all over the world and can't be guaranteed by a single firm. It wouldn't be fair to ask Red Hat, say, to indemnify you of any claims against Linux, Egger points out. “You would be asking them to guarantee something which they have no more knowledge of than you do,” he says. “You're asking them to do something where they might be in the position of having to guarantee what their competitors wrote.”