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Around version 7.0 (? just guessing) SuSE became paid only distribution (i.e. you had to pay to get the copy), after several releases SuSE came back to free + paid model.

Now -- the most important to me, what was the first paid-only version, and also interesting, what was the last paid-only version?

Editors, please do not "fix" the spelling of SuSE, back then it was SuSE not SUSE (not sure about end of paid period though).

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I remember paying for SuSE 7.2, 7.3 and 8.0. I think I looked at 8.1 in a store, and then decided to go the Slackware route. – Bruce Ediger Oct 13 '11 at 12:46

According to my research the answer is never. Even today SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise) is free as well as openSUSE. You can go to SUSE's page and download SLES but you don't get support at all or updates past 60 days. It is licensed under the GPL.

This link to the openSUSE page explains better.

from the article

Product history

In the past, the SUSE Linux company had focused on releasing the SuSE Linux Personal and SuSE Linux Professional box sets which included extensive printed documentation that was available for sale in retail stores. The company's ability to sell an open source product was largely due to the closed-source development process used. Although SUSE Linux had always been open product licensed with the GPL, it was only freely possible to retrieve the source code of the next release 2 months after it was ready for purchase. SUSE Linux strategy was to create a technically superior Linux distribution with the large number of employed engineers, that would make users willing to pay for their distribution in retail stores.[5]

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Maybe it is just of wording, or some license issue but I know for sure, that for example magazines could add CD with SuSE (then), and for some period this adding was prohibited, so you could not get CD with SuSE for sure, you had to buy it (box). And I am interested in this period. Thanks for the research! +1 – greenoldman Mar 30 '12 at 11:53
I put in a call to my SUSE rep. if he does not know (and he won't) he should be able to ask someone. – 2bc Mar 30 '12 at 12:28
Wow, thank you very much in advance. I wish I kept that magazine just before paid-only period, things would be easier ;-D – greenoldman Mar 30 '12 at 17:25

I don`t remember a time where you could NOT download OpenSuSE or SuSE Professional for free. But this might be due to the fact that I missed out 7.0 through 9.0. 9.0 was free again.

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Thank you, this narrows down the versions, I hope somebody will have definitive numbers. – greenoldman Oct 14 '11 at 5:05

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