Saturday, May 10, 2014

FLOSS is the ideal choice for freedom

Without exceptions any of the Maldivian's who use a computer has used illegal pirated software. It is true, as far as technology is concerned; if we have to purchase software at the current high cost, we will be considerably backward. For a small community like us to keep up with the technology race it is a must. However, if we are using illegal pirated software, whether an individual, a business or a government agency, we are preparing ourselves for a disaster. 

So why and how would this change the way we use software? Software falls under IP Law, and thus using illegal pirated software by law will be a punishable crime. One may ask how you would be caught using illegal pirated software. Well, unlike today, when the IP Law is in full force, everyday law enforcement officials will raid, force people to buy original versions of software and exercise fines as dictated by law. We have to wait and see how much these fines will amount to, but the question is, are you willing to wait for the law to come and cause a huge financial burden.

You may say, nobody talks about this IP Law, or you may have doubts that it will ever come to Maldives. I will advise you to do your own research on the topic. Whether you are convinced or not, whether you want to wait for the IP Law to come and cause you a financial and a loss of reputation. Right now the choice to stop using pirated illegal software is just a matter of ethics. Truth is, even today, without the law enforcers chasing you, there are enough reasons to avoid illegal pirated software.
First and foremost, it is strange for anyone to trust an unknown person with no identity in providing an executable that has been tempered. In most cases, illegal pirated software carries a lot of Viruses, Trojans and Worms. The software will be reasonably slow and at times bound to stop working. On the other hand, nobody can give any kind of warranty or offer sustainable technical assistance for such software. If you are providing or promoting or using illegal pirated software, as far as technical help is concerned, you are pretty alone in this world.

If you are an IT Manager or Technician, it is your duty to stop using illegal pirated software. Why wait for the day for your seniors to come up with policies and audit regularly to force you to stop the use of illegal pirated software. Everyone should break the current habit of using illegal pirated software and be responsible for the software they use.

I do understand many of the software are too expensive for most of us to afford. Especially given the fact, we have been using pirated illegal software for the last 30 years. If you choose, you don’t have to waste that much money. There is a better option than spending all our hard earned cash into buying legal software. There are Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) alternatives. For example Windows 7 Ultimate costs like $319.99, but along with that you have to buy Microsoft Office Professional 2010 for $499 and the average price of a Virus Scanner at $35. This totals to $853.99 or MVR10,973.77. Question is, can you afford to spend an additional Rufiyaa 10k for software? However, you can go for an alternative like Ubuntu, which is FLOSS based, a popular operating system built upon Linux. You can also look into, which is a very popular Office package that is as feature rich as any other Office package on the market. The virus threat on Ubuntu is very rare, but for the sake of not being a Virus carrier for the Windows users you can use ClamAV Virus Scanner. All of these are very few selected FLOSS that you can easily get used to without spending a fortune.

If you are concerned about the cost and demanding hardware requirements of the latest Windows Operating System, then just have a look at Ubuntu or any other Linux Distros (check the issue #1 of MOSS for some popular Linux distributions). I know it is a major change for anyone to consider, but this is a change to which we have very little choice. The risks are way too high for using illegal pirated software, and thus, individuals and the staff of companies and government agencies have to look at FLOSS as a friend.

Today, one reason why nobody really trust, or value the IT Industry of the country is due to this illegal pirated software. When there comes a day, when software needed to be budgeted heavily, people will realize it and value it. Opening a computer shop around the corner is not taking part in the IT Industry, it is a retail business. Introduction of the IP Law will bring a positive spill to create many new jobs, boost the economic growth with the creation of an IT Industry.

In reality the fact that companies like Microsoft has grown so huge taking advantage of a need and pricing their product unreasonably high is the real reason for software piracy. However, we cannot just say so and stop at it. I have always supported FLOSS and believed in that information should be free. FLOSS today is a good competitor that even giants like Microsoft has officially accepted and acknowledged. Hopefully this will force to reduce the prices of future products of major players like Microsoft for the benefit of all.

What I personally do not get is, when the government knows and says that they have to use legal software by the year 2011, they are sitting like ducks doing nothing. I guess it is about time the government take the first steps, educating people of using legal software and advocating on the potential dangers of pirated software. As a government initiative, cutting down on software piracy is a doable thing.

If you are an individual, I will advise you to start looking at alternatives. If you want to take part in the IT Industry I will advise that you start exploring FLOSS. If you are a business I will advise you to contact a trusted partner who can help you get a legal software environment. When the government is serious about the use of legal software by 2011, then today is the right time to act. This task is way too big to accomplish within the last three months.

The use of illegal pirated software is an unethical choice we make, as it is equal to stealing. The legal version of pirated software has a value that the creator has placed on it. May it be too high for everyone to afford, but using pirated illegal software from an ethical point of view is a criminal act. FLOSS is the ideal choice for freedom.

Original author: Yusuf Shunan - MOSS Magazine 2010.

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