The "knowledge base" functions in JIRA Service Desk are basically a link to some functions in Confluence, so yes, you need Confluence to be able to use them, and that means getting a Confluence install and licence.
Although, you could keep the numbers low if you use "anonymous" read-only access to the Knowledge Base space(s) and only licence your service desk agents with edit/updates.
you don't need confluence licenses to read knowledge base articles from the service desk.
The linked article is opened in a pop-up and it's no real access to the system.
So the user must be servicedesk customer but nothing else.
...be more productive while being fun to use at the same time. For some, getting started can be a bit intimidating. This is especially true if Jira Service Desk is your first exposure to Atlassian...
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