Recently, Linspire announced that they were going to sell a software package consisting of OpenOffice and Firefox in retail stores and online for US$29.95. There has been a lot of heated exchange of words between mozillazine community members and at other places too.
People have complained that selling the "open source" softwares which are available for free from the web, would be equivalent to cheating the customers. I think provinding the information that the softwares can also be downloaded from the web free of cost would be playing fair with the customers.
However, the question of legitimacy of selling the open source softwares still remains. The licenses under which the softwares are provided might allow users to sell the software under certain conditions.
But is it justfiable to actually sell the software which is free? I would say YES (in majority of cases), if you consider the following analysis. Consider the people who just have a dialup modem connection available and pay their phone company by the amount of time of phone use rather than a lumpsome. (Its sad that today's average high speed internet user assumes that everybody else is also using a high speed connection!!) Simple calculation* would result into a total time of a little less than 3hours(2h57min) to download OpenOffice(44MB) and Firefox(4.7MB) for Windows (other OS distros are much larger). Is it justifiable to spend so much time and money to download the softwares which one could get by paying a few extra dollars(or whatever unit of money) from a nearby retail store? I would definitely go with the second choice. And in effect would end up getting some exercise by going to the retail store rather than resting my bum on the chair in front of the PC!! Moreover, Linspire's funding of various open source projects makes the money go the complete cirle :)
If you still don't agree, I would suggest you advise the parent open source organizations to concentrate on marketing themselves.
* assuming a sustained transfer rate of 5kBps (I get something about 4.3kBps).