Free is a claim that we've long been trained to be skeptical of, but the game here is starting to change.
In the world of information technology, it isn't that unreasonable to assume that the copy of a piece of data is pretty close to zero. Once it has been created the first time, duplicating it actually costs nothing (despite what the RIAA may claim about imaginary lost sales).
With this in mind, quite a few colleges have started to make their classes available online - for no cost to the student. Now, you can't get a degree this way (maybe someday), but you can learn a whole bunch of stuff that you can apply to your own classes or even just for self enrichment.
To take it another step further, MIT is now offering its free online classes from a free content management system (CMS). Anyone can download this CMS to build their own website, and if there's something about it they wish was different they're also free to make any modifications or addons they see fit. Chances are, the Plone CMS is even going to be run on a Linux server (a free and open operating system).
With the economy in doubt, the trend toward free information is at least one set of circumstances we can be enthusiastic about. Hopefully, more schools and more software platforms catch on, and maybe we won't be choosing between advancing our information & education potential or making the mortgage!