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Software Freedom Day in Canberra

By Loquaciousness 17 September 2008 99

Software Freedom Day – what is it and why should I care?

You might never want to look at the nuts and bolts of the software you use, so why should you support Software Freedom Day? To keep the software you want to use free of charge, and to make sure that the people who can improve it continue to do so. You probably already use, or know of, some open source projects – Firefox (a web browser), Thunderbird (an email client) and Open Office (word processing and spreadsheet software) are all completely free programs used by millions of people worldwide.

The developers who write and maintain free and open source software do so because they are passionate about it – they’re not paid for their work, and they don’t expect to be. By using and distributing their programs, you are helping them to continue making great software for you to use free to charge. Just by copying the software and handing it to your friends, you’re supporting those people who have written the code, and who work hard to maintain it.

When you download and install open source software, not only do you get a program for free, but if you want to, you can take a look at the source code too. And if you find something there you don’t like, you can change it. Submit it to the developers, and see your contributions go out to the next person to download the software.

With proprietary software that you pay money for, the source code is under lock and key, so you can never be quite sure what you’re getting. It could contain viruses or adware, have security vulnerabilities, or just be badly written, making the software unreliable and unstable. Open source software is not only free to use, and free to share with your friends, but it’s also a step towards personal freedom for everybody. With open source software you can see exactly what you’re getting, and can help to make the software better, even if you aren’t a developer.

By supporting Software Freedom Day, you’re supporting the open source community and helping to keep knowledge where it belongs – in the hands of the people who created it.

OK! I’m excited! Where do I start?
Drop in and see the Canberra Software Freedom Day team at the Computer Fair in the Bus Depot Markets on Saturday 20 September, 2008. See free and open source systems in action, get your own free copies of the software, and ask as many questions as you want.

Then:
Drop in to the Install Fest at the ANU (CSIT building – Room N101) the following weekend on Saturday 27 September. Bring your computer and we’ll provide the software and help you get up and running.

If you can’t make it?
Jump online and check out these websites:
Software Freedom Day
Canberra Linux Users Group
OpenDisc
Open Source as Alternative

Or email us at linux@lists.samba.org and we’ll do our best to help.

[ED – depending on how Kramer struggles with his insto on the new server the volunteers might end up configuring a dual quad core beast for us]

What’s Your opinion?


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Software Freedom Day in Canberra
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Loquaciousness 7:52 am 23 Sep 08

johnboy said :

So for business use you are much more likely to find a workable solution to your needs with it rather than letting salesmen tell lies.

Good point – and you will find that it’s at the enterprise level where Linux really starts to stand out. There’s plenty of offices that use Microsoft on employees’ desktops but in the server room it’s F/LOSS all round.

Linux has been criticised in recent months (and years) for not concentrating more on the desktop market – it’s one of the main things that drove Debian to develop Ubuntu. Much as I would love to see more development on the Linux desktop (add to that it’s easier to find people to work on ‘funky stuff’ rather than back-end, boring enterprisey stuff too) but I think it’s a case of finding a core business. Linux is good at enterprise/server software, why dilute that model?

While it makes good business sense, it does tend to mean that those who play in a server room every day get it while those who use nothing but a desktop don’t always understand what all the fuss is about.

L

peter@home 2:01 am 23 Sep 08

johnboy said :

But, the Free Software lets you trial it in full operational mode without needing to seek permissions or approvals.

So for business use you are much more likely to find a workable solution to your needs with it rather than letting salesmen tell lies.

I would have thought it was the marketing depts for the large corporates like microsoft that create an element of FUD regarding open source software. Not the sales person. Sales people sell. that is it. they sell what they are told to sell and the opinion is usually made up from the marketing info that they learn from.

johnboy 10:54 pm 22 Sep 08

But, the Free Software lets you trial it in full operational mode without needing to seek permissions or approvals.

So for business use you are much more likely to find a workable solution to your needs with it rather than letting salesmen tell lies.

Loquaciousness 10:20 pm 22 Sep 08

Aha! Aurelius has hit the nub of the problem.

The point (to my mind anyway, others may have different agendas) of efforts such as Software Freedom Day is to highlight why F/LOSS software is different, and thus why the ‘average punter’ should care about who owns the copyright to the software they use.

The really cluey F/LOSS supporters that I’ve met don’t actually care too much about the “free as in beer” part. It’s the “free as in speech” part that is really important. However, it’s a sad fact that in order to help people understand what’s so great about software that is “free as in speech”, it needs to spruiked in terms of “free as in beer”.

The idea behind this is that if people use the software and get involved in the community, they will start to understand why freedom of ideas is and can be so important to those who are creating it. With any luck, they’ll start to understand why supporting proprietary software stifles creativity, locks in consumers and puts hard limits on intellectual property. Unfortunately, the reality is that most people who end up using any kind of F/LOSS software will just see it as a “free version of Microsoft’s $PRODUCT”, and not actually get it.

As I’ve said all along – F/LOSS software probably isn’t always the best tool for the job. I would recommend that you weigh up all the available options before you choose any software, and choose the one best suited to your needs. However, I would always take free as in speech into account when making that decision. If the choice is between two otherwise equal products, pick the one that will support freedom, over the one that stifles it.

L

Aurelius 9:55 pm 22 Sep 08

Peter,
Yes sorry, and that’s why I ceased discussing it last week – because I at no point advocated anything, I was merely making a statement – that the majority of users of M$ products have not paid for them. Which leads me back to the question I posed a long time ago – why would someone change to open-source? The open-source people tend to ignore the fact that the average punter doesn’t give a toss who owns the copyright to the software they use. They simply ask themselves “Can I use it to do A, B & C?”

Loquaciousness 7:09 pm 22 Sep 08

el said :

peterh: I may have missed it, but I don’t think anyone here is actually advocating software piracy.

el – my thoughts exactly. Much as software piracy financially hurts manufacturers and resellers, and is a royal pain in the proverbial for the fix-it-up chappies, it exists. And not just here and there – it’s quite prolific. I’m sure there’s not a single person here that hasn’t been exposed to a bit of pirated software, wittingly or otherwise.

Aurelius may have been less than eloquent when putting the case, but he is simply making an observation, not a recommendation.

L

peter@home 7:07 pm 22 Sep 08

thanks davo, currently cooking a rack of lamb for my littlies. cheaper than individual chops, so missed that one.

Davo111 7:04 pm 22 Sep 08

el said :

peterh: I may have missed it, but I don’t think anyone here is actually advocating software piracy.

Aurelius said :

Dogen,
Noone pays for Microsoft products (to use an obvious example)
Except total n00bs who know no better

as per above.

el 6:47 pm 22 Sep 08

peterh: I may have missed it, but I don’t think anyone here is actually advocating software piracy.

peter@home 6:46 pm 22 Sep 08

fnaah said :

I guess that’s because I’m a supid n00b, huh?

what is a supid noob?

no, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know…

fnaah 5:20 pm 22 Sep 08

I guess that’s because I’m a supid n00b, huh?

Aurelius 3:42 pm 22 Sep 08

fnaah,
Thankyou. Now, if you go back and read what I wrote, you might find you addressed very little.

peterh 3:40 pm 22 Sep 08

the only things I have issues with are comments re “get microsoft products for free”. Open source is free. Commercial costs money. simple.

If you try to make commercial software free through illegal acts, that is not an act of freedom, it is an act of blatant stupidity.

want free = opensource

want commercial = pay for it.

I personally pay for all software I use that is not offered for free, legitimately. I would prefer to do this, in case I or my wife ever get audited in the course of our daily business dealings. I can claim against my tax for business use, so that may actually mean that it is free….

fnaah 3:24 pm 22 Sep 08

Having just re-read Aurelius’ other “contributions” to this thread, I have a few more things to say.

Before I start, disclosure: I use XP and various flavours of Linux both at work and at home.

Firstly, I find it amusing that one of your first posts in this thread accurately described the ideological position you were going to take on this matter, before you actually took it. Very clever.

For most people, switching to Linux is neither a) or b). You have to learn a bunch of new stuff to do the same old stuff. And by switching, you lose access to tons of applications, thereby enabling you to do less. Oh, but it does enable you to spend many of your weekends now trying to learn to program so that you can fix bugs and contribute code so that programs will let you do what you could already do before you started going down this merry path.

These statements are simply untrue. You don’t have to learn “new stuff” to do the same things. Getting your network card working (as an example) is still a matter of assigning appropriate IP settings. There may be a different method, but nobody is forcing you to learn Banyan Vines instead of TCPIP.

You may lose access to proprietary formats, but not “applications”. You can create a document or a spreadsheet or a presentation without MS Office. You can edit an image without Photoshop. You can play an mp3 without Winamp. Hell, even most games run under Wine these days.

You don’t need to “learn to program” to use open source software. You may need to learn what the software actually does, or even how it does it, but you don’t have to write it. If you consider modifying a configuration file as “programming”, you’ve got a bit of a gap in your skills and knowledge matrix.

They’ve got products the customer doesn’t have to pay for and they STILL can’t get market penetration. Therefore, the logical conclusion is they have failed because their products are rubbish.

Your logic is flawed. As someone stated above, open source applications and operating systems dominate the market in the web server arena:

http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2006/06/04/june_2006_web_server_survey.html

A program or product does not need to be useful to everyone to be successful or worth the effort of producing. There are many different distributions of Linux around because they are all tailored towards particular use, functionality or ideology. Windows tries to be the jack-of-all-trades, which it does pretty well, but I think you know what else that implies.

You are also making an assumption that the driving force behind open source software is profit. Ever heard of altruism? If someone writes an application for a specific purpose, what’s wrong with letting others benefit from that without trying to leech money out of them? Protecting profit stifles the growth of knowledge and impedes progress. Sharing knowledge sparks creativity, facilitates education and encourages discovery.

Why should any user switch? This thread is 65 posts long, and noone ever says ‘if you switch, you’ll be able to do 1, 2 and 3 which you couldn’t do before’
The average punter is not going to change the way they do things unless they see benefit. The biggest error the open source zealots have in their marketing is forgetting that.

The biggest error that MS script kiddie zealots make is failing to see the benefits that are pointed out to them, repeatedly, or even acknowledge their existence.

1. You don’t have to pay for software. Moreover, you won’t be forced to buy other software that you shouldn’t need to make the first software than you shouldn’t have paid for work as well as the software you could have got for free, if only you’d bothered to RTFM.

2. You won’t be forced to buy software just so you can collaborate with others who have fallen into the clever marketing trap of paying for things they don’t need.

3. You might find that a modern OS doesn’t need to gobble up 1Gb of RAM just to check your email or surf the web.

4. You might find your “old dead” pentium 3’s and other castoffs actually have plenty of use – file storage, backup, mail server, web server, secure and private proxy/gateway, torrent seedbox, HTPC, firewall, home security and automation, all sorts of cool stuff.

5. You might actually learn something about how your computer works, so that you won’t be mistakenly be lead to believe that reinstalling an OS every six months is “just normal”, or that you need to buy a new computer every twelve months because “they just slow down the more you use them”, or that adding bloated antivirus/antispyware software is the right way to stop spam and viruses.

I’m going to stop now. I’ve had my zealot-like anti-zealot whine for the month.

Loquaciousness 11:35 am 22 Sep 08

peter@home said :

how long till the commercial manufacturers resort to the old dongle system? then we are all well and truly stuffed.

We’ll only be stuffed in that situation if we haven’t worked out an alternative to proprietary software by then …. 😉

L

Loquaciousness 11:32 am 22 Sep 08

Overheard said :

I’ll be OOT for next week’s Open Source stuff, but Loq, if there’s anywhere else I can tap into this stuff outside of the organised gigs, I’m all ears.

Overheard, sorry for taking a while to get back to you, I’ve been AFK for a few days. Probably the best way to get involved is to sign up to the CLUG mailing list, which you can do here: http://clug.org.au. You don’t have to attend the meetings unless you want to, the list itself is a very good resource.

Otherwise, check out the other links in the OP. If there’s something specific that you want information on, and Google isn’t helping, drop me a line directly (loquacities at gmail dot com) and I’ll see if I can’t steer you in the right direction.

L

peter@home 3:15 pm 21 Sep 08

fnaah said :

Aurelius wrote:

PeterH, If you need advice on how the majority of Windows users are doing so without having paid for the products, you’re less techno-savvy than I previously believed.

If you believe the majority of Windows users didn’t pay for the software, you’re a fool, either because you fail to understand the maning of “majority”, or you fail to realise how Microsoft actually makes money by selling operating systems.

A very large majority of windows-based home computers are bought either at big-name retailers like Harvey Norman, Domayne, Dick Smith, or online from Dell/IBM/HP.

Every single one of those machines has the cost of the operating system factored into the retail price. Joe Average may not actually buy a boxed copy of Vista, but he is still paying for it.

By the way, knowing how to install pirated versions of Windows doesn’t make you “techno-savvy”. It makes you a script kiddie.

knowing how to install pirated versions of any other commercial product is the same deal. and the resellers that have to fix the F@#%! mistakes of other less honest resellers usually get the blame for the problems that the client is facing. (of course, if you really want to make the life of the other reseller responsible really hard, get their contact details and pass to the client)

bothering to get a keygen and cracking a program is pretty dumb anyway, how long till the commercial manufacturers resort to the old dongle system? then we are all well and truly stuffed.

johnboy 11:53 am 21 Sep 08

Better to use the Free Software (almost the opposite of warez) and build a better world for everyone IMHO.

fnaah 11:01 am 21 Sep 08

Aurelius wrote:

PeterH, If you need advice on how the majority of Windows users are doing so without having paid for the products, you’re less techno-savvy than I previously believed.

If you believe the majority of Windows users didn’t pay for the software, you’re a fool, either because you fail to understand the maning of “majority”, or you fail to realise how Microsoft actually makes money by selling operating systems.

A very large majority of windows-based home computers are bought either at big-name retailers like Harvey Norman, Domayne, Dick Smith, or online from Dell/IBM/HP.

Every single one of those machines has the cost of the operating system factored into the retail price. Joe Average may not actually buy a boxed copy of Vista, but he is still paying for it.

By the way, knowing how to install pirated versions of Windows doesn’t make you “techno-savvy”. It makes you a script kiddie.

5

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