Free The Software!

Software Freedom Day is Today. So, go to your computer and see if there is any software in there you can let out.

Find out more here.

Comments

  1. #1 Collin
    September 17, 2011

    FWIW, here are the reasons I disagree. Make of it what you will.

    * Open source software is transparent only to the privileged few who can understand the source code.

    * Software piracy is theft, plain and simple. Just because computer technology is too new to have widespread physical ways of securing honest business; doesn’t mean it should stay that way.

    * America’s voting system has a lot of non-computerized opportunities for fraud. There should be a way to use computer technology to mitigate them, and the pros and cons need to be considered.

    * The removal of software prices would be a huge anti-stimulus to the global economy.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    September 17, 2011

    Colin:

    * Open source software is transparent only to the privileged few who can understand the source code.

    Propitiatory software is transparent to no one.

    * Software piracy is theft, plain and simple. Just because computer technology is too new to have widespread physical ways of securing honest business; doesn’t mean it should stay that way.

    I agree that software piracy is theft, and that has absolutely nothing to do with this conversation. OpenSource is not piracy, and to suggest that it is could indicate a lack of understanding of the situation.

    * America’s voting system has a lot of non-computerized opportunities for fraud. There should be a way to use computer technology to mitigate them, and the pros and cons need to be considered.

    I’m not quite sure what you are getting at here, perhaps you could expand on it. Personally, I think any voting done with computer has to be done with OpenSource software or not at all. Do you disagree with that?

    * The removal of software prices would be a huge anti-stimulus to the global economy.

    There is indeed quite a bit of money spent right now by all of us that would not have to be spent as it is. But I do think you misunderstand how this works. “Free software” is only partly created by people working for free. Most of it is created and managed with money being spent to do that. There’s lots of economic stimulus involved with Open Source software.

  3. #3 P Smith
    September 17, 2011

    Software is not like novels or music. Its medium of use changes rapidly, and so should the expiration of its copyrights.

    I’m all for the FOSS movement, but I am also a firm supporter of abandonware. Any software which is no longer supported by its manufacturer should fall into the public domain, though it’s contentious as to whether that refers to the date of initial release or the end of support for the product.

    For example, Windows 95 is now so outdated as to be useless and not a generator of revenue for Microshaft. It should be freely available for use in the third world, compatible with old technology that could be cheaply mass produced.

    I have no objection to paying for good software or even repackaging of old software to sell again, and I am not advocating piracy. What I and many others object to are excessive restrictions on software that is no longer capable of generating revenue and which is three or more generations old in technological terms. Let it be of use to someone.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abandonware

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  4. #4 Greg Laden
    September 17, 2011

    Interesting idea. But then, so were muffin stumps.

  5. #5 Mikko
    September 17, 2011

    Software piracy isn’t theft


    a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it

    b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property ”

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theft

  6. #6 Charmin
    September 18, 2011

    I find it rather concerning that people think free software is somehow theft.

    I have to wonder the level of education on the subject one would have to have to come to that conclusion, and if they are aware that this very site is running on free software(Apache)?

    If you create something and then freely give it to someone, can a third party then say that you committed an act of theft by receiving it?

    Most of the internet, runs on free software under the hood.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    September 18, 2011

    …that this very site is running on free software(Apache)?

    I don’t know if apache is involved for sure, but I’m pretty sure it is. The servers run on Linux, and the blogging platform is a special version of Movable Type created for pay by programmers using opensource tools (that is one of the FOSS models). (Scienceblogs.com is the only site that runs on this particular version of movable type). At a later time we will transition to WordPress.

    This particular blog is written most of the time in emacs on a Ubuntu Linux system, graphics are edited with the gimp. There is one piece of paid software on the computer I use which I use for scanning.

    So yes, not only is this blog pretty much brought to you by Free and Open Source Software, but so is the vast majority of content on the internet, most smart phones, all Kindles, and so on and so forth.

  8. #8 MadScientist
    September 18, 2011

    @P Smith: why use Win95 when you can use a good operating system like FreeBSD or Linux? W95 doesn’t even have decent network support. Numerous problems exist with the idea of distributing W95 compiled code even if MS were to go out of business and therefore cease to be able to assert copyrights. For one, W95 will not be able to operate most hardware produced in the past 5 years. Well, at best it will be able to make minimal use of resources by employing technical kludges such as the VGA support offered by even the most powerful graphics processors – but a lot of hardware simply won’t run (for example, USB was an add-on).

  9. #9 MadScientist
    September 18, 2011

    @Mikko: Software piracy isn’t even piracy. Unfortunately the propaganda pushed by companies like Microsoft and the RIAA and MPAA is being believed by people who do not have enough familiarity with the law. Taking and using software without permission is simply copyright violation. In some countries this is a matter of tort law and not a criminal offense. What I find hilarious is that the movie and music industries happily push “music/film piracy is a CRIME” even in countries where it is merely a civil offense (and definitely not a criminal offense).

  10. #10 GregH
    September 19, 2011

    @MadScientist: It is kind of hilarious, although we see a concerted and ongoing effort to enshrine various kinds of stupidity in law, which isn’t so funny. Amazingly, large corporations don’t like change even when it greatly benefits society, and they feel they have a right to their carefully guarded revenue streams. I think we’re going to let them get away with it, partly because we believe the propaganda, but mostly because we’re still stuck on the idea that “property” is some kind of inalienable right.

  11. #11 P Smith
    September 20, 2011

    MadScientist (#8): “why use Win95 when you can use a good operating system like FreeBSD or Linux?”

    Are you a whiny and arrogant linux fanboy, of did the point go over your head (or in one ear and out the other)? It wasn’t about one specific piece of older software, it about any that others might find useful. I picked that as an example, not the example.

    If you’re producing computers for poor countries, why insist on the latest hardware? Pentium II and III computers could be mass produced dirt cheap, they would be reliable because they technology is so well tested, and compatible with older software. Just because it’s not what you want to use doesn’t mean it’s unusable.

    Attitudes like yours towards software, that computers “must have the latest technology” are why the “one laptop per child” failed. Instead of building a low power machine with older hardware and software, Negroponte and his group were guilty of trying to do too much. The third world doesn’t need cars, it needs durable bicycles (worldbike.org, wheels4life.org), and the third world doesn’t need high end multimedia machines, it needs text and sharing of information.

    And since you’re clearly unaware of what’s out there, FreeDOS exists and there are USB drivers, flash readers, internet drivers, and thirty years of tested software that’s completely compatible. “Free” and usable doesn’t have to mean linux.

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