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Mon 11th Apr 00:09 2011: Proprietary software and Piracy

I am so glad to be spend most of my digital life in the Free (and Open Source) Software community. I can't really see how the Proprietary Software system is supposed to work, other than depending on users pirating their software in order to gain a monopoly (or rather, to emulate the pre-existing Free Software ecosystem whereby users are used to your software because they can get it for free). There was an article posted on Slashdot last week; I don't often read Slashdot these days, but the discussion was quite interesting, as was the article itself.

I just stumbled upon, which claims to have a tool to thwart the Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy software. This reminded me of a lot of the comments from the article above. The page says, under a heading of "Virus scanner results", "All virus scanner detection's[sic] are a false-positive. Simply turn off your anti-virus while installing the loader."

This is closed-source, unverifiable software written by a developer who clearly has no interest in honouring copyright law, telling people to trust their work over the anti-virus software which does indeed sometimes detect false positives. The user has no way of verifying what is true any longer. The old saying about "honour amongst thieves" comes to mind; the OS vendor, the antivirus developer and the "free" (in all senses other than the one truly necessary to its user) hack to the OS all have their own self-interest, and (other than executable code, whether for a dollar price or not) publish nothing but what the user wants to hear.

The user has no way of knowing whether or not this code is trustworthy, and should now have alarm bells ringing that other, independent software flags it as a virus. These users are used to downloading unvalidated software from random web sites, and are also used to false alarms from antivirus software, so a fair number of people could be lead into following these instructions. I have no idea whether or not this will achieve the goal they desire, or infect their machine, and nor do they.

With Free Software (Debian specifically, but the same goes for most other GNU/Linux distributions) I have a single channel which provides tens of thousands of applications, complete with source code. If I am at all unsure of an application, I can download the source and inspect it myself before installing, or even change it before installing it.

And on top of that, I don't need to bypass some restriction tool imposed by the OS in the first place, because my OS is also Free (and free) so it does not need to impose any hidden restrictions upon me. Why would anybody choose any other way of computing?

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