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OS Speculations
bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
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Being forced doesn't necessarily mean you have no other choice. It can mean your choices are limited and typically alternatives are undesirable. For example, if I were to pull a gun on you and your girlfriend and demand that you give me all of your money or I'm going to blow her head off, you have the choice of telling me to fuck off. It probably won't go well for either of you, but you have that freedom. Still, most would say I was forcing you to give me your money because the alternatives were undesirable.

The way computer software/hardware is today, Microsoft Windows typically gets proprietary drivers for most PC hardware (if not right away, then eventually) directly from the manufacturers whereas the open source community is usually tasked with writing their own (often by reverse engineering the hardware because specs are not released). So yeah, the open source community has a struggle on their hands to provide sufficient support for all of the many flavors of hardware available and often your hardware isn't perfectly supported for months or years. Is it really their fault that they're fighting an uphill battle? Is it really to Microsoft's credit that hardware manufacturers need to support their OS in order to reach the mass market? It's no surprise that Apple limits themselves to select hardware. They'd probably face the same support issues as the Linux community if they tried to support it all.

Nobody can argue that Microsoft throw their weight around whenever possible to stay ahead. Some of their products are great, but others are absolute crap; yet people are still mostly forced to buy into them.

Obviously, it isn't dishonest or wrong to sell software. Requiring me to buy that software in order to buy hardware seems a little more gray though, IMHO. The open source model is a much better model. I was taught that it has been around a lot longer than proprietary software. Apparently before Microsoft came along, it was normal to give the software away for free, source included. After all, the hardware isn't much use without it. Nowadays, though, the software to support the hardware is instead written for a proprietary operating system and made proprietary itself, requiring users to buy the proprietary operating system to use the hardware or [probably illegally] reverse engineer it and write their own software for it. There are the exceptional cases where manufacturers hand over the necessary specs to allow the open source community to develop support, but it still isn't the same as providing that support for them.

Consider it this way: if everybody shared software, one company would pay its programmers to write some software that they need and subsequent companies with similar needs could borrow that code and tweak it for their needs, hopefully saving them a ton of time and work. The programmers are all still getting paid for the work they're doing, but they're spending less time reinventing proprietary wheels and more time sharing existing software. Hopefully, the original company can save time and money in the future by also borrowing code from others. I don't know this model can sustain itself without the use of proprietary licensing, but I'd like to think it can. The are some very intelligent people that have been around a long time that seem to know it can.

le_y_mistar
Member #8,251
January 2007
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baf, i agree with you 100%, car ricer analogy is pretty spot on

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Tobias Dammers
Member #2,604
August 2002
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bamccaig said:

Obviously, it isn't dishonest or wrong to sell software. Requiring me to buy that software in order to buy hardware seems a little more gray though, IMHO.

It's a chicken and egg thing, really. You need windows to use certain hardware, sure. But the other side of the story is that you need compatible hardware to run Linux. You can blame Microsoft, or you can blame (some) hardware vendors, but it doesn't mean anyone is forced either way. It doesn't mean that they are doing anything illegal or immoral either.
I know of one notebook manufacturer who ships all their machines without an OS so basically, customers do have a choice.

Don't get me wrong, I think Open Source / Free Software is a great idea, and the world would probably be a better place if all software were essentially free, but to get there, we would need a different society, something like a mild form of communism (in the non-ideological sense of the word: community-funded work resulting in community-owned products).

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SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
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It doesn't mean that they are doing anything illegal or immoral either.

What? Morals depend on the person and the society. Under my set of morals charging for software is highly immoral. You all think it's moral because you all think free market is the optimal economic arrangement or something, a belief not everyone shares. Stop making blanket statements about something's morality.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
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alethiophile
Member #9,349
December 2007
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SiegeLord said:

Morals depend on the person and the society. Under my set of morals charging for software is highly immoral.

And we're expected to respect your set of morals. So tell me, if someone commits a serious crime, say murder, and then states that under his set of morals murder is not immoral, are we forced to respect his moral views and let him go free? Or, similarly, if someone states that under their set of morals it is immoral to release software for free, must we respect their personal morality?

--
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
C++: An octopus made by nailing extra legs onto a dog.
I am the Lightning-Struck Penguin of Doom.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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If I can no longer read files because of changes to proprietary formats,
if I cannot play media because of DRM,
if I cannot use my hardware because proprietary drivers don't exist and the manufacturer won't release the information needed to create an open-source driver,
if I cannot obtain security updates because my OS is wrongly deemed to be an unauthorized copy,
if I am not allowed to install the software that I buy on any PC I choose without having to call for permission,
if the software on my computer calls home without my explicit permission,
if the software on my computer transmits information about my computer without my explicit permission,

I have lost control of my computer and it has been hacked.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Tobias Dammers
Member #2,604
August 2002
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SiegeLord said:

What? Morals depend on the person and the society. Under my set of morals charging for software is highly immoral. You all think it's moral because you all think free market is the optimal economic arrangement or something, a belief not everyone shares. Stop making blanket statements about something's morality.

OK then:
Assuming ethics that are based on the following:
1. Whoever makes something is the rightful owner
2. Whoever owns something is free to give it away, or sell it at any price they see fit
3. The intellectual rights to a piece of software are something that can be owned
...I don't see how one could argue that charging money for software (or the right to use it) is wrong. And the above 3 statements reflect the ethics of enough people to turn them into laws in virtually all civilized (and so-called civilized) countries.

Im all but a free market evangelist, and I am a strong opponent of a lot of things commercial software makers and other companies often do, but the sole fact that they are charging money for their products (even if horribly overpriced) is not one of them.

If I can no longer read files because of changes to proprietary formats,

Blame those who changed the formats, or better yet, don't save your data in proprietary formats.

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if I cannot play media because of DRM,

Then don't buy DRM-ed media.

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if I cannot use my hardware because proprietary drivers don't exist and the manufacturer won't release the information needed to create an open-source driver,

Then the hardware doesn't fit the OS. First to blame is you for choosing the wrong combination: Alternatives DO exist.

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if I cannot obtain security updates because my OS is wrongly deemed to be an unauthorized copy,

Call support and complain. Everytime I had to call Microsoft for things like this (e.g. installed for the third time because the first system had died) getting my copy re-enabled was no problem at all.
Or use an OS that doesn't need to be authorized.

Quote:

if I am not allowed to install the software that I buy on any PC I choose without having to call for permission,

You don't buy software, you buy a licence. Nobody forces you to agree with the licence.

Quote:

if the software on my computer calls home without my explicit permission,
if the software on my computer transmits information about my computer without my explicit permission,

If you have a problem with that, then don't use the software. And if your privacy has in fact been violated, then go to court.

None of these points has anything to do with charging money for software.

Again:
- Hardware manufacturers have no legal obligation to release specs or provide drivers for any operating system, and you have no legal right to claim that hardware you buy works with any OS that's not mentioned on the box.
- Software companies, like individuals, have all the right in the world to put restrictions on your use of the product, as long as they are mentioned in the licence agreement between you and the copyright owner.

There's a slight difference between "it's a shame that X doesn't work with Y" and "how dare X not support Y".

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Me make music: Triofobie
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"We need Tobias and his awesome trombone, too." - Johan Halmén

Kitty Cat
Member #2,815
October 2002
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Blame those who changed the formats, or better yet, don't save your data in proprietary formats.

But when you have to for school or work, it doesn't leave you much choice if you want to continue to be schooled/employed.

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You don't buy software, you buy a licence.

Dunno about you, but I do buy a copy of the software, and not a license regardless of what they say I'm buying. I go to the store, grab a physical copy, and give the clerk some money for the purchase.. I then own the copy. I didn't agree to any license, nor do I have to before using the product in any legal way I want.

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Software companies, like individuals, have all the right in the world to put restrictions on your use of the product

Only within the bounds of the law, which is arguable where DRM and similar is concerned. When they start putting unlawful restrictions on software (or make people think there are restrictions where there isn't), that starts becoming immoral, IMO.

--
"Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will pee on your computer." -- Bruce Graham

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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I had the Tomb Raider Legend demo a couple of years ago, I read on the intrawebs how they installed the SecureROM DRM for the demo and how to remove it. Now, if it's a demo that anybody can download legally, why do they have to include "anti-piracy" measures with it? I'll not install another new game or demo until it's been out for several months at least to make sure it doesn't do bad stuff to my computer. Is SecuROM bad? These guys seem to think so

http://reclaimyourgame.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=56&Itemid=61

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

MiquelFire
Member #3,110
January 2003
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DRM on a demo? Why?

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BAF
Member #2,981
December 2002
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This one is much more fun to read:
How to get a windows tax refund [www.linux.com]

Haha, sounds like typical zealot behavior. Waste hours for $50. I'd rather go to work for a couple hours and get $50 the easy way, rather then spend 3 times as long on the phone with people who can't speak english and therefore can't comprehend what I want.

Matthew Leverton
Supreme Loser
January 1999
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Uhm... but people who use Linux don't have jobs because they think charging money for things is immoral. ::)

They just want the refund so they can go buy some weed.

BAF
Member #2,981
December 2002
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Oh, I forgot about that. Thanks for reminding me, it makes more sense to me now.

alethiophile
Member #9,349
December 2007
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Uhm... but people who use Linux don't have jobs because they think charging money for things is immoral. ::)

I suppose ML can get away with trolling, since he owns the forum. ;)

--
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
C++: An octopus made by nailing extra legs onto a dog.
I am the Lightning-Struck Penguin of Doom.

BAF
Member #2,981
December 2002
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I'm just the reporter - you decide.

Hard Rock
Member #1,547
September 2001
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I had the Tomb Raider Legend demo a couple of years ago, I read on the intrawebs how they installed the SecureROM DRM for the demo and how to remove it. Now, if it's a demo that anybody can download legally, why do they have to include "anti-piracy" measures with it? I'll not install another new game or demo until it's been out for several months at least to make sure it doesn't do bad stuff to my computer. Is SecuROM bad? These guys seem to think so

It's done because there have been known cases where crackers used the demo file to crack the actual game.

One of those just consisted of replacing the exe with the demo exe. So to prevent this, the demos are covered in the same DRM to slow down the crackers a little longer.

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SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
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And the above 3 statements reflect the ethics of enough people to turn them into laws in virtually all civilized (and so-called civilized) countries.

Yes, enough people = the number that constitutes the majority of corrupt representatives sitting in the various ruling bodies of those countries to pass these 'ethics' into law. What is lawful is not necessarily ethical or moral. Conversely, what is moral or ethical need not be legal (especially in the current world).

To pragmatists, what is legal the the only thing that matters, of course they are confused by people of higher moral fortitude. Call them zealots a lot they do.

Like, look at this:

BAF said:

Haha, sounds like typical zealot behavior. Waste hours for $50. I'd rather go to work for a couple hours and get $50 the easy way, rather then spend 3 times as long on the phone with people who can't speak english and therefore can't comprehend what I want.

It does not occur to this specimen that there are moral stand issues at play, and that the money returned is only of secondary concern.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
[SiegeLord's Abode][Codes]:[DAllegro5]:[RustAllegro]

BAF
Member #2,981
December 2002
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Also, the irony here is that the money returned doesn't come from Microsoft anyway. Dell most likely just absorbed the $50 loss to make the guy shut up and stop wasting their time.

SiegeLord
Member #7,827
October 2006
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Yeah? That's precisely one of the points. Bother Dell with this so they offer an unbundled option.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow."-Ecclesiastes 1:18
[SiegeLord's Abode][Codes]:[DAllegro5]:[RustAllegro]

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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But then MS would get mad at Dell and take away the OEM discount, which would force Dell to charge more than competitors for equivalent computers.

OTOH, it wouldn't be hard to swap in a blank hard drive if they did want to sell an "illegal, naked PC".

http://ctrambler.wordpress.com/2006/04/06/sell-naked-pcs-pc-without-operating-system-or-risk-losing-customer/

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Tobias Dammers
Member #2,604
August 2002
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Kitty Cat said:

Dunno about you, but I do buy a copy of the software, and not a license regardless of what they say I'm buying. I go to the store, grab a physical copy, and give the clerk some money for the purchase.. I then own the copy. I didn't agree to any license, nor do I have to before using the product in any legal way I want.

You own the physical media, yes.
You don't own the contents, though. You grab the copy (the copy, mind you), you pay, and then, before using the software, there is usually some kind of licence agreement you have to, well, agree with (if only by breaking a seal, clicking a button, or installing the product). If you don't agree, you are entitled for a full refund, provided you can produce proof that you haven't used the copy.

SiegeLord said:

Bother Dell with this so they offer an unbundled option.

To my knowledge, Dell is one of the competitors that DOES sell naked PCs. You have to ask specifically, they may not offer any model you like (e.g. the cheapest ones), and you may not save significant amounts of money, but they do sell them - even though they do not publicly advertise this fact.
This may also be because people EXPECT an OS to be bundled with a PC, just like they expect a hard drive, a CPU and RAM. Sell a naked PC to an average customer, without warnings in big red flashing letters, and you'll receive truckloads of complaints that the PC doesn't do anything.

SiegeLord said:

It does not occur to this specimen that there are moral stand issues at play, and that the money returned is only of secondary concern.

Matter of principle vs. pragmatism. Having moved from Germany to the Netherlands, these things have become quite clear (and often amusing) to me. Germans focus on what they are entitled to, Dutch people just want to know how to reach a certain (individual or common) goal.

Kitty Cat said:

But when you have to for school or work, it doesn't leave you much choice if you want to continue to be schooled/employed.

Again, in the cases I have heard of, schools (universities especially) tend to <em>refuse</em> proprietary formats. Of all the people I know well enough to care about their academic careers, 100% has written their homeworks and theses and such using LaTeX, and in most cases, this was mandated by their univiersities.
As far as work goes, if your employer mandates that you have a PC and use it for work, then they better pay for it - hardware AND software.

Quote:

Only within the bounds of the law, which is arguable where DRM and similar is concerned. When they start putting unlawful restrictions on software (or make people think there are restrictions where there isn't), that starts becoming immoral, IMO.

Obviously. You cannot mandate that a user needs to murder his/her stepmom before using the product or something like that. However, charging money for limited usage hardly qualifies as "unlawful"; neither does DRM, provided:
- it does not restrict usage of the product any further than the licence agreement states
- it does not put any restrictions on the rest of any system capable of playing / using the affected media
Unfortunately, most DRM solutions I'm aware of don't qualify - most violate either or both of the above.

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Me make music: Triofobie
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"We need Tobias and his awesome trombone, too." - Johan Halmén

Kitty Cat
Member #2,815
October 2002
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You don't own the contents, though. You grab the copy (the copy, mind you), you pay, and then, before using the software, there is usually some kind of licence agreement you have to, well, agree with (if only by breaking a seal, clicking a button, or installing the product). If you don't agree, you are entitled for a full refund, provided you can produce proof that you haven't used the copy.

You own the copy of the contents the moment its paid for. I did not agree to any license before I forked over my cash, and they can't try to push terms on me after the sale. Legally speaking, the moment I buy the copy, I can make a backup copy/ISO, store the original for safe-keeping, then hexedit the ISO to remove any EULA.. (or use Wine, where the EULA tends to not show up, sometimes :P). I didn't make any agreement, and modifying a license without the consent of the other party automatically invalidates that license (if it was even valid to begin with).. but I still own the copy, and thus can do with it what I wish.

--
"Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will pee on your computer." -- Bruce Graham

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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You can copy Shakespeare out of a book, due to it's being public domain, but you can't sell copies of Spielbergs latest offering even though you bought the paperback. Borland had it right with their "like a book" license.

Quote:

Additionally, Borland was known for its practical and creative approach towards software piracy and intellectual property (IP), introducing its "Borland no-nonsense license agreement". This allowed the developer/user to utilize its products "just like a book"; he or she was allowed to make multiple copies of a program, as long as only one copy was in use at any point in time.

from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borland

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Kitty Cat
Member #2,815
October 2002
avatar

but you can't sell copies of Spielbergs latest offering even though you bought the paperback.

Actually you can. First-sale doctrine, and all. You can't sell copies you made, however.. you have to give them away with the original, or destroy them, if you sell your original copy.

--
"Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will pee on your computer." -- Bruce Graham

Thomas Harte
Member #33
April 2000
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You can copy Shakespeare out of a book, due to it's being public domain,

However, any modifications you make are your own copyright. Since Shakespeare works tend to survive in multiple, slightly different versions, most publishing houses are able to find sufficient leeway in the exact placement of punctuation that they can produce a print of Shakespeare that you can't duplicate exactly. Similarly, all the layout is covered, so you definitely can't photocopy. Probably best to buy at least a couple of Shakespeares and pick at random anywhere they differ in punctuation.

On the plus side, it's almost certain that even the original portfolio printers just made up their own punctuation, so this isn't as much of an example of business degrading culture as it might seem.

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