Do You REALLY Need That Non-Free Software?

Apparently, sometimes the answer is “NO!“A leading City firm has halted the roll-out of software that was supposed to streamline its business but became more trouble than it was worth. Specifically, £32m of trouble.
Brewin Dolphin, in Smithfield St, London, alleged to investors it encountered “issues” with the "robustness" of a specialist financial application. It started installing the code in 2011 but has now stopped.”

The standard comment trolls make to FLOSS is that non-Free software is better, somehow, because you pay for it up front. I’ve seen several instances of that being false in schools. Here’s an example of a big business rolling out non-Free software. It didn’t work for them and they are stopping the rollout part way through. You don’t always get what you pay for…

I once worked for a school division that depended on several non-Free applications: e-mail, locking down the network and something called Filemaker.

The e-mail application insisted on upgrading to every release along the way from our ancient implementation to the latest version if we wanted to keep our e-mail archive, with payment for each licence for each release… Paying for software is not wrong, but they were essentially charging us for our own files. That is wrong. It’s hostage-ware.

The locking software was a whitelist for the Internet. By default everything was blacklisted, even my GNU/Linux sites. One had to persuade HQ to unblock any useful site. Strangely, microsoft.com was not blacklisted. The head honcho of the company was a microsoftie.

Every now and then someone from HQ would distribute a Filemaker file to every school. The only problem was that none of the teachers had a licence for Filemaker. It worked for the folks at HQ, eh? Try it yourself. Go to their site to figure out what the programme actually does… Thank Goodness for Wikipedia. Apparently it’s a relational database thingy. Must have it. It has a GUI…

So, non-Free software can be a disaster propagated by motivated sales-people and bosses ignorant that Free Software can do what you need done. For £32m one could have hired a few PHP programmer and made a LAMP stack work and had a lot of change to spare. The thing is there was no need to pay for functions that are available for $0 or nearly $0. Just pay for the things you need, the script on top that interacts with the user to access the other resources. The worst non-Free software disaster is that other OS, you know the one that wants to run your life at great expense while allowing malware and intruders free reign on your hardware. How much is that kind of performance worth? It’s negative yet hundreds of millions have been forced into using it with complicity by OEMs, retailers and other “partners” of M$.

There is an alternative to non-Free madness. Use FLOSS and GNU/Linux. It’s software built cooperatively by the world for the world and it’s built at cost giving just the features most of us need. If you need more, pay for it by hiring some programmers. My favourite FLOSS is distributed by the Debian organization. It’s a one-stop shop for desktop/server/network/search/database software, ~40K packages in all. It’s rare to find any task of IT that you can’t get done with that. Updates can be automated for OS, drivers, applications, everything… Look there before you even think of paying for non-Free software. The Freedom is not just about price. One can pay for Free Software, software that lets you run, examine, modify and distribute the software with a licence included with the download. You can pay programmers. Why pay for non-Free software that was long ago paid and yet you have to pay huge amounts of money and time to obtain a copy? That’s overpaying.

See Stock and awe: Top City biz takes £32m hit after software upgrade axed.

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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6 Responses to Do You REALLY Need That Non-Free Software?

  1. Mats Hagglund says:

    Adobe flash? Oracle Java? Not missing both of them … however for some web pages we still need them. Surely they are terrible.

  2. dougman says:

    I could care less about the ordering of the listing I posted. The point being that, when you subject yourself to Windows, that is the BS that you must deal with, its the so-called NORM… Rolls-eyes

  3. oiaohm says:

    dougman I would put current version after ccleaner not some random version from some dvd or cd somewhere. Old versions of ccleaner do a nice number on Windows 7 and Vista by stripping out registry security attributes. And Microsoft does not include any method to reset them to default.

  4. dougman says:

    MSCE’s are not experts.

    They are some of the stupidest and downright arrogant people, I have ever met in my life.

    In the past, I would kindly ask that O-types refrain from the having their IT person in the same room as I give my presentation / sales pitch, as they always like to interject with their M$ bullshit. Once I packed up and walked out after one said “That will not work”, I said “Fine, I see YOU know how to run things, carry on.”

    The owner stopped me and asked the IT-ID10T to leave, then explained to me how they have been having this problem and that problem and were in the process of letting the schmuck go for his condescending attitude to the other employees.

    All these M$ folk, will have to get a real job and learn to think for themselves in the near future.

  5. dougman wrote about the stuff one has to do to manage that other OS.

    Yeah. (SARCASM) That’s intuitive, natural and everyone knows it, eh? It’s a GUI after all…(/SARCASM)

    I find GNU/Linux far easier to manage than anything M$ ever shipped since DOS. I can remember my struggles with inActive Directory some years ago. A lady in the office needed to have access to the colour printer. Just putting her in the right group should have been good enough but M$ had another layer blocking her access. Despite all the gloss, M$ just would not tell me what was blocking her. I had to poke around: Is it this? Is it that? until I finally found that she needed to be an administrator to print in colour. Now, that may have been a misconfiguration by the professional MSCEs hired to set things up but one wonders if a system so complex is really needed in a school with a few people in an office and a few teachers. Configuring GNU/Linux in comparison is trivial. You grant access to particular individuals and groups and they have access. That system was also configured so that some users had “roaming profiles” (total pain) and some had not. In comparison, GNU/Linux is like a fine spring day in the garden compared to living in a boiler factory with that other OS. On the one hand, the trolls tell me that my problems are due to my not being an expert in XP/2003 while at the same time they tell us that users don’t have to be experts to use XP/2003. Which is it? I’ve been on three school systems set up by MSCEs and all had serious flaws re: reliability and performance. Installing GNU/Linux on random hardware has always worked for me.

  6. dougman says:

    One an OWN Linux or rent Windows and deal with the following bullshit:

    First delete/un-install all programs/applications/games you no longer use (especially those you have disks for).

    Burn/copy to CD/DVD/flash drive any and all music/pictures/movie files and delete the originals.

    Download install and run Ccleaner, both ‘Registry’ and ‘Cleaner’ parts…
    http://www.ccleaner.com

    Run Disk Cleanup (Start>All Programs>Accessories) check/tick all boxes, they’re all safe to remove.

    Run Disk Defragmenter (Start>All Programs>Accessories).
    Re-start.

    Open Computer Management, click Start, and then click Control Panel. Double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Computer Management.

    1.Open Control Panel>System and Maintenance>System.

    2.In the left “Tasks”, click on Advanced System Settings.

    3.Click the “Advanced” tab. In “Performance” section, click on Settings button.

    4.Click on Advanced tab.

    5.In the “Virtual Memory” section, click on Change button.

    6.By default, “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives” setting is selected so that Windows Vista system can manage the paging file without user’s interruption. If you want change the paging file size,uncheck the check box of Automatically manage paging file size for all drives.

    7.Select and highlight the appropriate drive that users want to change the paging file settings under the box of “Drive [Volume Label]“ Usually ‘C:’.

    8.To fix a permanent size for the paging file, click on Custom size button, and set the values of Initial Size 4095 (MB) and Maximum Size 4095 (MB). To make the size of pagefile.sys static. Then click on Set button.

    Click Start>Run (or type in search bar) and type “msconfig” (without quotes ” “),click the Startup tab and uncheck anything that’s not needed at startup.

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