Friday, October 3, 2008

The price of software

In North America, there really isn't an excuse for most of us to pirate software. Much of the stuff we actually need is within the budget of the working class. And for those of us who can't afford it but are still technologically savvy, linux and other open source/free software is easily downloadable through our broadband connections. With the help of a quick internet, we are afforded ample opporttunity to research the software we are interested in before buying it, or finding a legally free alternative.

In a third world country such as Ghana, software is free like air is free: It can be acquired cheaply or freely,but only long term usage will reveal whether it was healthy or filled with disease. As mentioned in a prior post, just about every computer, if lucky, is infected with only a couple of viruses. If unlucky, it will be crippled by over a dozen. Initially, the student body was suspect for bringing in their own infected USB keys and stacks of bootlegged CDs, but I soon realized our own archive of software was infected. On our Windows XP ISOs were "free tools" such as Partition Magic and license key crackers. A virus scan revealed no fewer than three viruses or trojans hidden away in these tools. Everyone endures these threats willingly, as the cost of going legal is impossible. For example, a teacher's monthly salary equals the cost of a Windows Vista license in Canada. I am not aware of any "third world" discount, nor have I seen any Future Shop or Best Buy where one might acquire the software legally. Not that we'd be able to run any currently selling version of windows on our 256mb of ram that most of our machines at school have anyway.


zoltan said...

Hi Tim,
Why don't you just go with linux/open office on all of the PCs then?
Isn't there a slimmed-down version of linux that is meant for older memory/cpu restricted hardware?
Keep the posts coming!

Tim said...

Honestly, nobody wants to use an OS that is only useful as a hobbyist OS. Here, people want to learn for the main purpose of getting a job, and at work, they use Windows.

Also, have you ever tried reading Linux documentation? It's either absent, or brief. I tried installing WAMP recently, and it comes with no offline documentation. I need an internet connection to read anything about it. Win2k3 on the other hand, had all the documentation I needed to set up a domain server for the school.