Almost Free

In emerging markets, some of the big software companies cannot sell their products at “list price” but they want to keep out competition so they tolerate, if not encourage, distribution for $0 via illegal downloads so that reall Free Software such as GNU/Linux is drowned out in the illegal market.
“The United States is the biggest supporter of piracy. There are hundreds of US sites that offer cracked versions of various expensive softwares in a bid to make them popular here. But it is only India that is blamed.”

see Thinq

Illegal copying is just one of the means that non-free software suppresses the distribution of Free Software. It is similar to the tactic of making sure that only non-free software is found on retail shelves. Free Software is not about price but freedom to run, examine, modify and distribute software, something anathema to some big names in the industry of selling licences to software. Because of the four freedoms, Free Software tends to have a low price and purveyors of non-free software treat illegal copying of their software as an advertising cost.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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11 Responses to Almost Free

  1. Nonsense. Applications existed for GNU/Linux before Linux existed. e.g.vi

    It does not take a complete rewrite to create an application on GNU/Linux, just porting.

  2. Ray says:

    Yes, but until people uses Linux, providers won’t develop applications for them.

  3. Mats Hagglund says:

    I guess most of the people are still thinking one can’t use PC if there ain’t “Microsoft” on it. It’s amazing thing that after all these years of suffering because Windows, they are still willing to take hooks, uppercuts and jabs from Microsoft. It’s almost moving. Just like those people in Kulaks crying for sorrow after the message of death of Stalin.

    There’s only one cure – their dearest neighbours and relatives have to start using some other OS than Windows. Smartphones are different story – people are hardly thinking there is also operation system there. When they think about computer, they simultaneously are thinking about Microsoft Windows.

    Biggest barrier for Linux ain’t Windows, it’s culture of using Windows and other MS-software. Even Apple can’t never break it. In a way or another people are perhaps someday “forced” to use Linux. Perhaps the producers are making that decision.

  4. oldman says:

    “It is about ubiquity, not choice.”

    I’m sorry Pog, but citing the ubiquity of windows as indicative of a lack of choice won’t cut it. The fact there is a thriving community that uses Linux would seem to indicate that there is choice going on.

    Also indicative of the choices being made are the number of well documented instances of companies offering Linux based computers for sale, only to have to withdraw them because there were not enough takers.

    While you may think that the average person is “uninformed” (if not downright stupid) for not choosing a Linux desktop, the fact remains that for most people looking for a computer, the ubiquitous is more than adequate to meet their needs. Even your beloved FOSS is availabe on windows for those who wish to use it.

    There is simply no reason to run a linux desktop unless your absolutely want to.

  5. Mats Hagglund says:

    I’ve heard about poll where they ask people “what operation system you are using”. They get amazing results like “Internet Exploarer” or “Firefox”. Great majority will never ever install any OS. I quess majority can’t even install any software. 15 years ago people installed more and made homepages. Nowadays they are either too lazy or too scared to do anything.

    I’ve have a feeling that even that minority start to think about Linux when their “Other OS” is totally knocked out and they have no money for new computer and new Windows OS. We have talked about these inside Linux forums and Linux is growing inside families and clans, student groups and amoung friends. The reason why Mint and Ubuntu are most successful is that LTS-option. I hope we will some day have very stable LTS with real solid and reliable rolling release option. Most of users don’t care if their OS ain’t the brand new one. With rolling realease they however could get the latest browsers, multimedia- and Office-applications.

    There is one good thing for Linux: 5-6 years old computers are now good enough for the next 5 years. It’s internet what’s all about for ordinary people. In 1990’s you actually had to buy a new one every 3 years.

  6. There are 300 distros of GNU/Linux. How many file-sharers have illegal copies of that other OS? Also there are far more forums on the web promoting that other OS. Even here, I have had comments that other OS is free (of cost). On the web, hits for “download operating system” are about even for XP and Linux. People will tend to download what they know about or obtain a CD from someone. In many cases, it is not a choice. The vast majority of the actual users of software rarely install an OS. They don’t even choose an OS. They use what comes on the machine of someone gives them. The “givers” probably match what the “consumers” can see on retail shelves. It is about ubiquity, not choice.

  7. oldman says:

    The notion that Microsoft “encourages” is simply not borne out by the reality of the currently shipping microsoft products.

    All of which require a Key to install
    All of which require remote activation before 30 days expire
    All of which will require reactivation under certain circumstances.

    “so that reall Free Software such as GNU/Linux is drowned out in the illegal market”

    Even given the above realities, Doen’t the fact that people would choose to pirate commercial software say something about their view of the utility of FOSS?

  8. Yes, M$ has slowed the progress of GNU/Linux but they cannot stop it. The truth comes out in the end.In a perfect world, consumers could buy on price/performance. Until more GNU/Linux systems get onto retail shelves, probably 80% of the growth of GNU/Linux is eliminated.

  9. Mats Hagglund says:

    Of course there is very obvious reason why Microsoft don’t really stand against piracy in Asia. They know very well that with real anti-piracy action people of – let me say Vietnam – would surely jump to Linux instead of using M$-piracy software. Redmont scares more Linux than piracy. They’ve the idea of piracy-Windows users who might later buy Windows-licenses. Perhaps they are right. Once you go Linux you (mostly) never come back to Windows.

  10. Yep. It’s not about choice.

  11. Bender says:

    It’s the same with Microsoft. As soon as their reign in russia was about to end they tried to entice the government with free licenses for their software. People that are short sighted (like in Munich choosing Windows for schools) only see the short term savings forgetting that the software company will have to recoup some day those “free” licenses. I bet in many cases corruption is also involved. It’s the same as with supermarkets, a salesman comes and gives free stuff to people responsible for decisions. As long as the actual financial system exists THOSE who have money have power over those that are corruptible.

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