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It’s free because Knuth chose to make it so (he makes money from
royalties on his TeX books, which still sell well). He is nevertheless
apparently happy that others should earn money by selling TeX-based
services and products. While several valuable TeX-related tools and
packages are offered subject to restrictions imposed by the GNU
General Public Licence (GPL, sometimes referred to as
‘Copyleft’), TeX itself is not subject to GPL.
There are commercial versions of TeX available; for some users,
it’s reassuring to have paid support. What is more, some of the
have features that are not available in free versions. (The
reverse is also true: some free implementations have features
not available commercially.)
This FAQ concentrates on ‘free’ distributions of TeX, but we
do at least list the major vendors
This answer last edited: 2011-07-06
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This is FAQ version 3.26, released on 2013-02-25.