Thursday, July 10, 2014

Avoiding Piracy - Choose GNU/Linux

When I was 13 years old, my Dad bought me an Apple //e computer. It came with 2 floppy disk drives,  BASIC, an ImageWriter ][, VisiCalc spreadsheet and The Print Shop software. That was it.

By the time I retired that computer, I had about 30-40 floppy disks, loaded with word processors, spreadsheets, a few games--which is a small collection, compared to "Jatmon Insearch," a 50 year old retired military guy who had hundreds of floppy disks lining the walls of his office and that my teen buddies made pilgrimages to so they could make copies of software, traveling in a pack to off-set the stigma of visiting a middle-aged man (nice guy but was always treated warily). Jatmon Insearch, his "handle" online when using Ascii Express (AE) to download software from online repositories, never shared his real name...he remained an enigma.

As a high school sophmore, I saw my fellow Apple computer buddies--all sophmores, too--swapping software back and forth, physically customizing their disk drives so they could push a button and easily bypass copy protection. They also copied anti-copy protection software, discussing the best ways to configure the settings to copy the original Castle Wolfenstein (which lives on with a recent release, Wolfenstein:The New Order), King's Quest, or some of the other more esoteric titles.

Sad to say, the young teens were software pirates...they laughed at "Don't Copy that Floppy!," which wasn't released in time to do them any good.

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Is it any surprise, then, to find out that many folks are still copying expensive productivity software so they can get work done?
Almost half of the world's enterprise IT managers openly admit to using pirated software at work – at least a survey from a software industry association says so.
report (PDF) from The Software Alliance claims that during 2013, 43 per cent of all software in the world was installed without a licence, up from 42 per cent in the previous study...The survey estimated around $62.7bn worth of unlicensed software had been used last year. The US accounted for $9.7bn of this, with an unlicensed rate of 18 per cent, it claimed.  
Source: The Register
Ah, if only we'd had GNU/Linux back then in a format that was usable. I remember the experience that made me a GNU/Linux user a few years ago, around the same time I started Around the Corner--my old Apple bondi iMac was ready for the trash heap. A colleague encouraged me to load YellowDogLinux on it, and later, UbuntuLinux. And, it worked. Not only that, I was able to connect the brand "new-old" $60 Walmart HP scanner to it and scan stuff. The scanner had never worked with Apple iMac, since drivers were made only for Windows OS.

Daily, I use a variety of GNU/Linux software programs, none of which are pirated and all are no-cost. I'm able to enjoy a virus and malware free computing experience, use a variety of software that would cost lots of money on the Windows side, and somehow, I manage to get things done. And, every computer I use has GNU/Linux (e.g., loaded on family gets work done.
Today, Canonical announces that not only has Munich taken an open approach to computing with Ubuntu, but the city is saving millions of euros too..."the switch from from proprietary software to open source has saved the city more than €10 million -- a figure that accounts for both the hire of external companies to implement solutions and the internal man-hours the city has invested in management, training and testing. By 2012, €6.8 million had been saved on Microsoft licensing alone. By August 2013, the cost of the entire project had reached €23 million, compared with an estimated €34 million just to upgrade to Windows 7 and new versions of Microsoft Office". 
Source: Ubuntu Saves Munich Millions, 7/7/14
Whether euros or dollars (1 euro is equal to $ wow!), you can't argue with those savings!

Thank you, GNU/Linux communities for the work you do. While some may look down their noses at free software, I'm grateful. I only wish K-12 schools would embrace this approach to computing and leave the expensive Windows, Microsoft, Apple Macintosh apps, etc. products in the past.

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1 comment:

Charlie Reisinger said...

Great post, Miguel. I couldn't agree with you more. We've embraced the open source model for over a decade. Linux is the primary student OS in our district and we recently built our entire high school 1:1 laptop program on free and open source software exclusively. The cost savings have easily surpassed several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plus, our students enjoy the freedom to experiment, explore, tinker and play with a huge menu of fantastic software. I'm deeply grateful to a community of passionate and dedicated strangers (FLOSS developers) who have given us tremendous technology tools for serious learning.

The Courage to Lead