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How a Microsoft Piracy Threat almost led us to Open Source… Almost! September 5, 2007

Posted by Nigel Ajay Kumar (NAyK) in Confessions, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Linux Mint, News, Open Source, OpenOffice, PCLinuxOS, Piracy, Software, Windows, Working with Linux.

Once upon a time there was a ‘school’ that used predominantly Microsoft software. This ‘school’ used PCs with Windows Servers and Windows XPs. The fact that this was a poor ‘school’ meant that they couldn’t afford MS Office. They wanted to, but they couldn’t. So they installed the academic licenses of StarOffice 7. All was good in the world.

Around that time, a new technology entered the world; the wi-fi. And soon, students began to connect their laptops to the ‘school’ wi-fi connection. All was good in this world too.

Then, one day, there was a warning. The ‘school’ servers received a notice from Microsoft that they were using pirated software; using MS products beyond the slated licenses. The IT department was shocked… because according to their internal audit, they were not. Could, heaven forbid, Microsoft be wrong?

As it turned out, Microsoft was not entirely wrong. Many of the students using the wi-fi connections were using pirated software, either operating systems (Windows XP professional) or Office 2007. Since these pirated systems were connected to the ‘school’ network, evidently it looked like the ‘school’ had over-shot their license.

The ‘school’ freaked out and decided to enforce a no-piracy law on all wi-fi users. Every system would be audited and only if it was entirely piracy free would the system be allowed to connect on the wi-fi network. They even devised an audit form and everything. The students were told that they would have to buy their own copies of OS and Office, or install a “Free” Linux Operating system.

Much frustration/guilt/anger/shame from the students followed. But the ‘school’ stuck to its hardline policy.

Immediately, there was a huge demand for information about Linux systems; “what is it?” “is it as good as Windows?” “Is it too different?” “Will it allow me to load my (windows) programmes?” “is it really free?” etc etc.

But then something happened; some call it grace/providence. And some call it simply bad business. But the ‘school’ decided to be gracious and at its own cost procured licenses of Windows XP Professional (academic edition) and lease them very very cheaply to the students. There would be no hope for the ‘school’ to recover its cost, but the school justified this by arguing that their primary concern was for the students.

Before this decision was made, some students had decided to use Linux as a piracy free partition on their pirated machines. Ie. they would dual boot with Linux when on the ‘school’ network, but when at home they would revert to their pirated systems (Smart? They thought so).

But the ‘school’ felt that because there was no way to ensure that the students would ONLY use Linux on the wi-fi network (because students could/would revert back to Windows behind the ‘schools’ back), they decided that in case of Linux implementation, the user must either do a full install or dual boot with only an ORIGINAL Windows partition.

This final decision was a deathknell to Linux implementation. In conjunction with the almost-free Windows OS, it was not worth the trouble (most students felt) to fully install (or partly install) Linux as well.

Thus most/all students adopted Windows as their first-choice OS.

The score: Open Source zero. Microsoft one.

However, there was a minor twist in the tale. This provision by the ‘school’ was only for the Operating System and NOT the MSOffice 2007 suite, which many students had pirated. The college was not willing to subsidize Office and students had to either use free software or buy their own. Without college support MS Office did look really expensive.

As a result, most students in this ‘school’ decided to install OpenOffice or StarOffice 8 (Academic License) instead of MS Office.

The point tally here: OpenSource (and alternatives) one. And Microsoft zero.

So the long and short of this story is that Microsoft Piracy threat almost led people to Linux, but when the students didn’t have to shell out the HUGE amount of money for it, Linux was just too inaccessible. But when the had to shell out money (as in the case of Office), they opted for the cheaper (free) alternatives.

On a brighter note for Open Source advocates, many more students are now aware of Linux and a few are willing to experiment with it as long term alternatives. The distribution that they’ve been given is PCLinux 2007.

The end. Or only the beginning?



1. John - September 6, 2007

There seem to be a few flaws in this story. 1) the school is not named, as is normal practice nowadays. 2) Which ‘poor’ school has students with laptops? 3) Generally, laptops come with a licensed copy of Windows anyway.

2. NAyK - September 6, 2007

To John:
1. ‘school’ is in quotes, meaning I’m hiding it’s identity intentionally.
2. ‘poor’ school means ‘with limited resources.’ If students have laptops, that doesn’t make the school rich.
3. Generally, in my context, a buyer can choose to buy a laptop with Windows installed or not. Many choose not to have Windows pre-installed to save a few extra bucks. Plus, some Laptops come with Windows XP Home, and some users even replace Original XP Home with Pirated versions of XP Professional!

3. John - September 6, 2007

Its still a lame story. Run back to the 90’s

4. Bala - September 6, 2007

So pirates can switch to Open Source is it? Linux is an open Source, some products are free like Ubuntu, but the HELP & SUPPORT is not free. SO the poor school has to opt for that anyways. This is one kiddish argument, Open Source is not Free Source, try to understand the difference first.

5. NAyK - September 6, 2007

To Bala: What you saying man? What’s the argument in this post? The story reported here is a real-life incident that actually happened. There’s no argument here. No one is arguing about the nature of Open Source.

About Open Source Paid Help and Support, I’ve never used any. However I’m sure there are corporates and small businesses (maybe even individuals) who use call centres or technical support. Such a thing is a choice made by corporates. And it may be a positive choice, to think about it. Because they WANT it. Forum support (on the web) for most Linux distributions is free. Even Ubuntu, openSUSE, PCLinux.

But that is still not the point of my story. The point I am making through my story, if anything, is that Open Source ALMOST made it to the hands (computers) of Microsoft users. But then it didn’t. Full stop. Any implications you want to draw from it, you’re free to do so.

6. NAyK - September 6, 2007

To John: who said >>>”…run back to the 90s”

Sure thing pal. I don’t have much problem with your condescending attitude towards real-life issues in developing world institutions because you’re obviously from the ‘first’ privileged world. Obviously that is to be expected. Enjoy your timezone.

7. Leo Danuarta - September 6, 2007

Which country does this “school” reside in ?

It is customary for laptops and desktops to be sold separately from the OS in developing countries such as India, Indonesia, Thailand etc. But it would be highly unusual in the US or UK.

And what could be the reason for keeping the identity of the school secret .. ? As the school itself does nothing illegal (according to this story), I can’t see any reason to be secretive. In fact the story looks fabricated with such coyness.

8. NAyK - September 6, 2007

To LeoDanuarta: thank you for your comment. The following is my response.

Which country does this ‘school’ reside in? You asked. Let’s just say that you’re not far off in your guess. It’s certainly not US or the UK.

“Coyness” wow, now that’s healthy criticism. especially if it refers to the tone of the piece. Yes it is true, I am being “coy”. Sorry about that. However if you can trust my words now, let me assure you that this story is not false. It happened, I was there. In fact, right now, I’ve just come from the IT office where we have installed three more machines with authentic windows software. Plus I’ve personally deleted a bunch of pirated non-microsoft software from students systems as well. Believe me or don’t, but it is true. It happened, it’s happening.

About the secrecy, well I’m aware of the dangers of being an insider and talking about my institution to the world. The only reason why I talk about this is that I feel these issues relate to Open Source implementation discussions. I like open source, I even believe in it. But I know that in the real world it is really difficult to implement Open Source on an institution level. At my department, I don’t want to get myself in any trouble by coming across as an open source advocate (I think of myself as realistic in my open source expectations).

Secondly, I am secretive about my institution because I don’t want to get the institution in unhealthy spotlight. Yes all their software is legal. However, they are pro Microsoft for practical reasons. In a previous post I wrote, many people felt that my institution was run by close-minded control-freaks… and such comments (if expressed to the institution) are neither helpful nor constructive. I want to prevent my institution from receiving both hate-mail or ‘helpful’-vendor mail.

Thirdly, the secrecy is also for the students whose identity I want to protect. I’m not interested in anyone getting on their backs for adopting pirated software. It’s a complex issue, and many of them are simply not aware of the problems involved. Most of our students had either been misinformed by their vendors or simply were ignorant about the legalities of the issue (yes in my context that is still possible!).

So thank you once again Leo for your response, I hope these comments help address some of your concerns. But I’m certainly not recanting anything I’ve written. (perhaps next time I’ll be less coy though :) )

9. reckless2k2 - September 6, 2007

I see NAyK’s point while the others seem to think it as an Microsoft attack. NAyK is just pointing out how “freedom” was taken away as an OS choice that could have opened more doors to Linux converts. That’s all I see it as and since NAyK comes off as an Open Source advocate he would be justified in pointing this out. Again, it is really an attack on no one. I wouldn’t even see it as an attack on the school. I only view it as pointing out the obvious. A choice was given. There were those that choose the alternative. More than likely when the school began to realize the possibility of having to support the alternative, they decided against it and eat the cost of supplying their choice OS. It was probably due to the fact that the school’s IT division knew little about the OS alternative and could not support it. The Microsoft advocates don’t need to view this as an attack.

10. NAyK - September 6, 2007

To reckless2k2: Hey thanks man! I was beginning to wonder whether I was way off in writing what I wrote. :)

11. phil - September 7, 2007

It would seem that the easy way out would have been to switch to Linux servers. MS would not have been able to track usage through them. An alternative would be to provide a second internet connection to the WiFi that was not paid for by the school or had any school computers connected through it (a parent organization could sponser it). Student access to the school computers would be from the internet (as when they are working at home), not an internal connection.

Of course, teaching that piracy is bad is a good thing. Demanding paid up legal software is proper. No need to expose the school to liability from illegal activities of its students.

Remind me of the value proposition sticking with MS. I can understand emotional inertia and avoidance to change, I just don’t get the value proposition. Why do you continue to write the check and deal with MS’s license management expenses? Seems like a waste of money that could be spent on new/more systems.

12. NAyK - September 7, 2007

To Phil: You said, “Why do you continue to write the [cheque]and deal with MS’s license management expenses? Seems like a waste of money that could be spent on new/more systems.”

Your question is valid and the answer grates me. In Shakespearean terms it’s like a downward spiral. The more MS makes lives difficult for individuals, the more we depend on it.

It seems to me, after this incident, that people are more willing to pay for something familiar to them rather than try something new for free. Somehow they believe their productivity and effectiveness is at stake.

For instance, the MS grammar check is one feature that is supposedly a reason why people stick to MS Office. However I’ve tested it, and it is so poor, doesn’t really help students. But somehow people prefer a badly executed grammar check to no grammar check at all. There again, lies another delimma!

What you seem to be suggesting is right. While I understand why my own institution supported MS at this time, there is no LONGTERM value in this road. Sooner or later, we’ll be talking about pirated Vista and MS Office 2010 etc. Then what’s gonna happen? I see a difficult road ahead in Proprietory dependency.

13. Henry S. - September 7, 2007

I don’t understand why people can’t believe that a laptop would have a pirated Windows. There are many reasons this would be the case. Your laptop came with Windows ME and you wanted XP, or you had XP and wanted Vista. It had “Home” and you wanted “Professional.” You lost the CD, your re-install partition was erased, and who knows what else I haven’t thought of.

14. JoLo - September 7, 2007

You are D-A-M-M-E-D RIGHT Henry S.!!!!

People who say otherwise are speaking on their experience… but then again, they never had experienced what many of us had and still experiencing…. ha ha ha ha ha!!!

15. JoLo - September 7, 2007

and this is to Bala….

You talk about Help & Support Fee… now do you get support or acquire support on your windows copy?

if yes.. good (that means u cant trouble shoot it your self or does not have the time to do so) you get what u paid for (hopefully).

if no.. (maybe u r skilled enough or u havn’t experience any problem yet) then u paid a few dollars (or whatever currency you may have) too much for your windows copy.

whichever answer you choose above is irrelevant from other peoples perspective (windows users or not)…

and the point of the article is not about an attack on windows or linux as pointed out by a poster above (reckless2k2) but rather a dilema that the school had experienced…

maybe a better post would be some sort of a help or tip so as to help the school not undergo such dilema again in the future… now that would be wonderful… isn’t it? :)

16. Bob Robertson - September 7, 2007

Linux tech support “hard to find” in a school with a network? Balderdash! The students themselves would support each other. It happens now with Windows. Really think about it: If you’re a Windows user, how many times have _you_ called Microsoft tech support and paid for the call? Never? Gee, just like me.

I think buying the accademic license for Windows was a mistake. Anyone with a paid license could use Windows, anyone who didn’t had a no-cost alternative available at hand. What more could anyone rationally ask for? It’s not like Windows and Linux don’t coexist perfectly well.

Once everyone is using StarOffice/OOo/Koffice or whatever with ODF, “interoperability” is complete. OS becomes irrelevant.

The only people who really care is Microsoft, because they want their 30 pieces of silver.

17. Jose - September 7, 2007

>> I just don’t get the value proposition. Why do you continue to write the check and deal with MS’s license management expenses? Seems like a waste of money that could be spent on new/more systems.

If the schools asks for help, I am sure there are some fairly cheap offerings. LTSP is both practical (saves headaches managing it once you understand Linux) and cheap.

Nice story btw. Scouting (bringing problems like this one into the open) is very important in order to figure out what problems exist and how they might be tackled (word of mouth market research).

I think I understand you not wanting to impose your views on the school nor risk losing credibility in the process. If you have a good track record and can accept rejection, you may want to approach your supervisors with a plan for a pilot. You (with help maybe) can work on possible solutions off-line in order to make a presentation. Maybe you will also find a way, in the interest of student education and well-roundedness, to encourage students that may like Linux/FLOSS (w/parents’ help perhaps) to put initiatives forward. Do you want it or do the students want it? Reports show that Linux is growing, including for example, job offerings on Dice.com as a recent survey revealed. It seems a bad move for educational institutions to ignore Linux just on account of this momentum statistic (I’m not even considering all the other benefits of FLOSS to anyone, much less to an educational institution).

(site owner’s comment: The full comment by Jose has been shifted to a new post. The link is here: https://alternativenayk.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/getting-open-source-help-for-schools-a-comment-as-post/ I hope the information given by Jose and the links provided will be helpful for others.)

18. JoLo - September 7, 2007

Oh, by the way… this article/story suddenly made me thingking…

How on earth is your school be responsible for the pirated copies of the students? what i do understand is your school provided for the students internet access while at school, am i right here?

Does microsoft is allowed to do this (in the context of law)? that is push you in to action against pirated copies of students WinOS?

and another… it is really amusing to say “people buy softwares” bec. if they do, then they “OWN” the software bought.

if on the other hand we say people “rent the software” then people must continually pay for it while using it….

if on the other hand a software is free… how on earth will the developers make a living?

if free software developers make a living on support, how will a company be as big as Microsoft (in terms of dollars)?

… add-on softwares are just that… Softwares tucked with a cute word!…

but somehow, developers must earn a living or they die of starvation… ha ha ha ha ha!!!

this is just a thought u don’t have to respond in a destructive way :-)

19. BalaIsWrong - September 7, 2007

Quoting Bala :”HELP & SUPPORT is not free”

You seem to think that Windows (or Office) costs what it costs because it includes HELP & SUPPORT, and that if you factor in the cost of HELP & SUPPORT in commercial “free” Linux distributions, then open source is as costly as Windows.

This obviously comes from someone that never tried to use the HELP & SUPPORT Microsoft provides to end users with its software. Unless you pay for MCS extra support contracts, you’re on your own, baby. Try the basic Canonical or RedHat support options, you’ll taste the difference.

20. NAyK - September 7, 2007

To JoLo: …In response to your response…

You said…
>>>How on earth is your school be responsible for the pirated copies of the students?… Does microsoft is allowed to do this (in the context of law)?

Actually, Microsoft cannot touch our institution because we have use legal software. However, the fact that the systems are connected to the net, and the warning comes to our servers, there is an association through “name”. Ie. our institution then comes under the unhealthy spotlight of piracy watching. we don’t need that kind of attention. worse, if our students are pirating software, and we tell MS that it’s not us but the students, then MS can take legal action action individual users which is again unhelpful to our institution and our students. For safety sake, therefore, it makes sense to make our students obey the law, at least on a public level.

You said…
>>>and another… it is really amusing to say “people buy softwares” bec. if they do, then they “OWN” the software bought.

Ya, but I think there is a mixed licensing option. Some companies, I don’t know if it is MS, believe we buy the right to use the software and not OWN the software, because the software remains patented or proprietary. For instance, if I could copy my own MS Office CD and redistribute it to others, it is not MY software I’m redistributing, but Microsoft’s. That is one argument.

You said…
>>>if on the other hand we say people “rent the software” then people must continually pay for it while using it….

Yes that is the case. And that is in fact what we are doing with the students who are there for only a short time. Our low cost lease requires students to uninstall windows before they leave our campus. But by making them at least rent MS Windows XP, we are at least giving them some time before they can buy Windows on their own (or when they leave our institution, do what they wish on their systems). I can see how we are helping our students… but I also know that this makes it too easy for them to obtain an authentic license without too much cost of their own (which is the actual cost).

You said…
>>>if on the other hand a software is free… how on earth will the developers make a living?… but somehow, developers must earn a living or they die of starvation…

Someone one told me that there is a difference between MS Software developers and Start-up software developers. Ie. in pay packet, standard of living etc. So sure, people need to earn their due. But perhaps it is more controversial concerning HOW MUCH the due should actually be.

You said…
>>>add-on softwares are just that… Softwares tucked with a cute word!…

Ya, I guess Windows XP is just the mothership for the true money earner, Office!

Anyway… thanks for your comments. Makes for interesting reflection from this end as well.

21. Getting Open Source help for schools (a comment as post) « Tryst with Linux and other Alternatives - September 7, 2007

[…] trackback The following post is not written by me, but was a comment on a previous post about the real-life problems facing Open Source implementation in the fact of Microsoft loaded schools.  This unusually large comment has a host of links that are geared to help individuals/institutions […]

22. GreyGeek - September 7, 2007

It seems that a lot of Windows fanbois with NO PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE in using any recent (post 2005) distro of Linux are making comments which have come straight from Microsoft’s PR memos or their “Get The Facts” propaganda campaign. It’s time to do some original research and thinking for yourself, guys.

The story mentioned that the school supplied them copies of PCLinuxOS 2007. That happens to be the distro I have installed on my laptop. PCLinuxOS is freely downloaded from the PCLinuxOS website:
and the forum, accessible from the home page, offers excellent FREE help. Phone and remote support is available if you wish to purchase it, but experience has shown that the PCLinuxOS forum, like those that surround the top 10 Linux distros, is more than able to handle most problems, if any, you may encounter. The forum is also Windows user friendly. We don’t ridicule you if it turns out that PCLinuxOS doesn’t work well on your hardware or with your software needs. Those things happen. We know from personal experience that situations can change and if you’ve had a friendly forum experience you’ll know where to come when you get more compatible hardware or your software requirements change. However, I’d wager that for over 90% of those running XP or WinXX, PCLinuxOS would fit on their machine like a silk glove, as it did on my laptop, detecting and automatically installing all of their hardware. Besides, what have you got to lose? If it doesn’t work you can get a full refund of your purchase price! :-). Merely download the ISO and check it with the md5 checksum. Then burn the ISO using the verify mode to be sure you obtained a clean burn. Then leave the CD in your cdrom and recycle the power. PCLinuxOS will run as a LiveCD but WON’T touch your hard drive, unless you chose to install it. In the LiveCD mode it will be somewhat slower than if it were installed on your HD, but the LiveCD mode will give you and excellent chance to see how well the distro detects and installs your hardware, and runs on your box. PCLinuxOS has an excellent GUI system admin software suite, PCC, which will allow you to completely manage PCLinuxOS without going to the command line.

IF you do decide to install PCLinuxOS, either as your sole OS or in a dual boot mode, be sure to select the ReiserFS journaling file system, from the “custom” install option, on your Linux partition. It is like having a stealth UPS connected to your box. Electrical and most hardware failures won’t harm a byte of data. But, if your HD crashes and your read/write head plows a furrow across a platter, as rare as that is, then all bets are off.

It may also be that you need one or more applications that are available only on Windows. You can install PCLinuxOS in a dual boot mode, but IF your copy of XP is legal and you have an install CD then let me recommend that you use either VMServer or VirtualBox (both free) and install your XP as a guest OS. That’s the way I run my copy of XP. A nice side advantage is that I can compress the 12GB of files that compose the guest XP system setting on my HD and save it as a zip on a DVD. Restoration is a simple as copying the zip file off of the DVD onto my HD and expanding it to recover the files.

Remember one thing: Linux IS NOT Windows. Pointing and Clicking works the same, but you’ll find the menu structure and app names are different, unless you rearrange the menu and rename the apps. Also, users run as users, NOT as system admins (root). Also understand that if you use the KDE desktop (as opposed to the GNOME desktop) you’ll have more desktop power and mime functionality than even XP or VISTA. And if your video hardware is capable of 3D acceleration and you install Beryl you’ll have a video experience that matches or exceeds VISTA’s Aero in most cases. And, there won’t be any DRM looking over your shoulder and slapping your hands if you decide to play the DVD movie mp3 music you PURCHASED. Linux won’t be downgrading your video resolution because some algorithm has decided that you are a pirate. And, it won’t let 3rd party vendors into your system through back doors that Microsoft has so graciously given them in XP and VISTA. So, those vendors won’t be perusing your files and taking notes on what you have, what you use, your personal data, and deleting what THEY FEEL is detrimental to their monopoly structures. When a virus lands in your mail box it will do ….. NOTHING! It can’t.

There is nothing in Linux like activeX controls that automatically fire email attachments. Everything in Linux is a file, even devices. Only files can be executed. To fire a virus you’d have to save it as a file, mark the file as executable, and then run the file. Even then, it would only have your user rights and it if destroys your user account merely log into root and recreate a fresh one. But, contrary to the propaganda put out by virus houses who are trying to replace lost revenue streams that Microsoft stole by invading their market space with “OneCare” (How about an OS vendor that writes buggy and insecure software and then sells additional software to plug holes it should have never allowed in the first place! Isn’t that a great income generating scheme or what! It’s even worse when one considers that independent comparisons show that “OneCare” traps only 90% of the viruses that attacks it. http://www.av-comparatives.org/seiten/ergebnisse_2007_08.php I’m glad I am not their customer.)

Besides, there have been only 6 active malware agents against Linux found in the wild since 1991. Sure, the anti-virus houses list 400+ “Linux” viruses, but I drilled down on over 125 of them and found that they are, without exception, WINDOWS graphic viruses that have had the word “Linux” deliberately put into their name to create a false impression.

You’ll find that about the only threat to your Linux installation will be the black hat cracker. Keep your firewall up, ports closed, and a good password system going and you won’t have any problems from him. You’re Linux box won’t become a zombie in some cracker’s harem because it takes too much effort to acquire a harem one box at at a time. The repository will keep you informed of patches and upgrades to Linux files, and 3rd party apps, and you can have them installed automatically.

After a short period of adjustment in learning how to do the same tasks in Linux that you used to do with Windows, only using different software, you’ll find that the OS has become transparent, anti-virus subscriptions are unnecessary, the OS never crashes, although an application may, occasionally, especially if it is in beta, and you won’t need to buy registry cleaners or other performance enhancing software to turn a turtle OS back into a race horse.

Did I mention that you won’t have to buy a new PC in order to use Linux? In fact, Linux is good at extending the life of older PCs because it runs faster on them than Windows did. Besides, the best way to speed up an old horse is to increase its RAM.

Drop me a line at the PCLinuxOS forum and tell me how your experience went. I’d be glad to hear from you.

23. JoLo - September 7, 2007

Guess what….

I have heard news that microsoft thru BSA stopped (or atleast they seemed to stopped) enforcing their anti-piracy campaign against
internet cafes in a known (atleast known to me) country for
a good reason…

The cost of the software is too high (OS, Office, etc…) literary dwarfing the cost of the hardware…

Bec. of these, Internet Cafes started to talk to each other and started thingking the unthinkable… run Linux instead of windows… and some did just that… when the news of the heresy reached the enforcer of the ***LAW*** they changed their strategy…. (by halting the enforcement).

So i am thinking… For Linux to succeed, all microsoft need to do is strictly enforce the * * * L A W * * * against software piracy and raise the price of their software… oh by the way, they lowered it in China… and your guess as to why they did that in China is as good as mine :-)


I use Genuine Windows software and Linux software… Proprietary Softwares, Free Softwares, and Open Source Softwares.

And NOH, i have not telephoned MS for their Help or Support :)

24. Jose - September 7, 2007

>> Our low cost lease requires students to uninstall windows before they leave our campus. But by making them at least rent MS Windows XP, we are at least giving them some time before they can buy Windows on their own (or when they leave our institution, do what they wish on their systems). I can see how we are helping our students…

The help doesn’t have to end on the last day of class. A solid LiveCD as a graduation present will really help a nontrivial number of them go forward with confidence they will have access to legal powerful software for some time to come. [Don’t mock my use of “powerful.” I am serious even if in some cases the particular FLOSS is a little less capable than the $1000 or $100 commercial equivalent.] Maybe they can spend the Summer learning to use the software, so they can be stay legal.

Or.. if they get an early start to using free legal software while they are still in school, they are going to be much more likely to actually stick with legal software. And they can use each other’s help during the more difficult early learning period instead of doing this learning mostly by themselves.

Imagine that, the school actually with a plan to set the kids off into the world respectful of the law and of other’s property. Even if the law is a little broken, they will have a secret weapon!

Do not worry about what to give them for graduation if they already received the LiveCD graduation present early, for there will almost surely be another newer just-as-free version available by that time.

>> >>>if on the other hand a software is free… how on earth will the developers make a living?… but somehow, developers must earn a living or they die of starvation…

I’ll try to get a hold of some Red Hat or IBM FLOSS employees, so maybe I’ll get back to you with their secret. In the meantime, I’ll note that most people in tech do not get paid to develop shrink-wrapped software to sell in volume so as to cover their salaries. Virtually every single internal developer or consultant can change the tag on their business cards from “Windows” to “Linux” (assuming they gain the expertese) and have no reason to think they will make any less money. Likely they’ll make more with less money being swallowed by huge software houses.

The nature of Linux is such that a typical hard worker (without special connections) has more opportunities with Linux than with Windows. There are more opportunities to add value. There is more money staying in house off the bat (lower hardware expenditures and less money shipped away to vendors for licensing) allowing for more outsourcing opportunities or the buying of interesting, new, and useful hardware instead of hardware to do the same thing as the old hardware.

Who will suffer are those that are making much more than what they would normally fetch in a more competitive market (eg, Microsoft employees, on average). There are a lot of careers out there though. In fact, many that contribute to FLOSS have alternative jobs, too. Of course, the customer doesn’t care all that much. They’ll care more about value than about the fate of a few programmers.

Most people will not be affected too much (if they start acquiring skills now with the majority). Prices will adjust and everyone that works will continue to make money like before. What FLOSS provides for is faster growth because there is a lot more sharing of ideas and code.

25. NAyK - September 8, 2007

To Jose: Giving a LiveCD? That’s a great idea. Didn’t think of that. Perhaps we can even just go ahead and install PCLinux or LinuxMint on their machines… and if they want to go ahead and delete it, it’s upto them. Ya, I think we could consider that! Thanks.

26. Ashwin - September 8, 2007

As I see it, this article should be read in a different light.

1. As long as something is free, the larger number of people will use it and further learn to use it better by investing time and effort. Students went the openoffice / staroffice way because they did not get it free from the school. The students as the ultimate users chose MS as operating system as they got it free from the school. They never paid the hefty sum of money the school did and it comes to students as good as free.

2. Now comes the question, why did the school choose to continue with the MS as operating system in spite of the problems ? Simple – they had paid for their own copy and wanted to use it. This is the point one should read.

3. A place like a school where we learn all things good and just and tough in life, takes the easy way out for itself. It was easier for the school to let go off the software it has paid for as a right to use or use it elsewhere and there by switch to open source / free software.

4. This would help the school to bring itself out from the clutches of proprietary world as well as teach the students the true values of life.

5. I come from a place where there is a saying – “Ek gaandi machli saare talab ko gaanda kar deti hai” in english the most appropriate and equivalent saying is “One bad apple spoils the whole basket”. So what should one do – throw the bad apple away before it spoils the whole basket. You have paid for the bad apple also but you have to still throw it away.

6. The school finds that the proprietary software is more important and not the whole school i.e. its students therefore it simply choose to spoil the students by giving them something for free without making the student realize that this is not correct.

I feel cheated as parent who send their wards to “this school”. It is a shame on the teaching fraternity to fall into such a trap and teach its students that go for the easy way i.e. as long as someone else pays for it use it and enjoy.

The school chose to retain the bad apple and spoil the students, by setting the worst example in morality for them.

Shake yourself, wake up you can still take the free / open software path at any time. Whatever is bad can be thrown even if you have paid for it.


27. N T Balanarayan - October 23, 2007

Hi uys am frm India..
PCs and laptops don come pre instlled with sodtware most of the time.. buyres get to choose and many people agree for a pirated version just to bring down the overall cost..

I still remember hw my friends sniggered at me when i got a licensed one installed

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