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Ubuntu Featured on Wikipedia August 7, 2006

Posted by Carthik in commentary, news, ubuntu.
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WorldChanging is a forward looking, optimistic weblog that I read regularly, and it was on WorldChanging that I first read about the Ubuntu wikipedia article being the featured article on August 5th, displayed prominently on the front page of Wikipedia. Congratulations to Ubuntu! Seeing a post entitled “Ubuntu” on World Changing was a nice surprise, but I guess it is obvious that Ubuntu can be World Changing.

The WorldChanging article on Ubuntu mentions a post that questions whether free software is really such a good deal for Africa (Ethiopia in particular). The point he makes is:

But this assumes that the choice for African computer users is between expensive proprietary software and free opensource software. The reality is that they have a third choice – cracked, pirated proprietary software.

He then goes on to quote ridiculously cheap prices in the the Ethiopian market for cracked and pirated software.

This so wrong, on so many levels. The “free” is not just related to the price, it has more to do with a liberating, enriching, world changing feeling. Doing the right thing, or sticking with the underdog is never easy.

To quote Benjamin Mako Hill:

…principled positions are sometimes inconvenient. Free software is no exception. It’s frequently different, sometimes incompatible and a bit more work. In some situations (dare I say it?), it’s not as good as the proprietary alternatives.

It might be inconvenient in the short term, but the long term benefits and a nation free of the guilt of using pirated software is well worth the short term inconveniences.

Comments»

1. William T. Foxtrot - August 7, 2006

Isn’t pirated software more inconvenient to begin with? You have to go through the trouble of cracking it, which may or may not take some work. I suppose they have talented people working on that, so maybe it isn’t so difficult.

2. ubuntonista - August 7, 2006

William, in places like Ethiopia and East Asia, it is not uncommon to find stores selling pirated easy-to-install software CDs that don’t even ask you for the product registration code. I have seen a 8-in-1 Windows XP cd in a small shop that promises to install one of 8 varieties of XP (home, professional) etc, in a snap, without needing a registration key. So yes, pirated/cracked software can be easier to install.

3. Petros - August 7, 2006

I don’t think that it’s simply easy in the easy-to-install method. There are other little things that a lot of *nix users take for granted while Ubuntu is by far, the easiest operating system to install, there are little useablity issues which make it less convenient for someone to work with. For example. my wireless card on my laptop is so much harder to use in linux where I have to kill services like the dhclient/dhcpcd and wpa_supplicant as I move from location to location. Under windows, with or without 3rd party software there is a fairly straighforward wireless profile manager. Take also the mp3 issue – you want to play a webcasted mp3 stream. Funny, mp3’s don’t work on my shiny new install.

All that said, I’m a huge Ubuntu fan and it’s pretty clear that it holds a good part of the key to the future of linux on the everywhere desktop. We’re close, but not there quite yet.

4. Petros - August 7, 2006

Christian, wonderful points. I think that it’s part of our responsability to be the provider of open source software alternatives. I’m currently using my wife and father as end-user guinea pigs. Ripping the Windows world out from under them. So far the lady doesn’t mind at all. But as you mentioned, she did have someone set it up for her.

5. Heathen Dan - August 7, 2006

Not everyone who uses open source software necessarily believes in the “free as in free speech” aspect. I use Ubuntu, but I am more of the “free as in free beer” variety. I used to use a cracked MS OS but decided that it’s too much of a hassle to maintain. But if you think that I’ll go along with the idealistic (unrealistic) vision of the FSF, then you’ve got another thing coming. And I still use proprietary (but “free beer”) stuff like Opera Browser and mp3s.

I can see why people would use pirated software, and while I do not condone such actions, I would also not condemn them. The realities of living in a third world nation may have something to do with it. The luxury of learning a totally different OS would have to take a backseat to the practicalities of life. And despite Ubuntu’s lofty goals to be user-friendly, it is still very non-intuitive to the casual user.

6. Martey - August 8, 2006

I think Andrew’s earlier post about troubles using Ubuntu with winmodems is more enlightening. If your choice is between free (in terms of price) software that works versus Free software that will not let you easily connect to the Internet, I think it is clear which most people would choose.

Most people I know in the first world who are technically adept do not use Linux because they disagree with its ideals, but because they have problems with hardware detection or multimedia playback or printing or another one of the various areas that Linux has trouble with. As a result, they either use Windows or Mac OS X – not because they do not want to be “liberated,” but because it is easier.

7. Limulus - August 8, 2006

“But this assumes that the choice for African computer users is between expensive proprietary software and free opensource software. The reality is that they have a third choice – cracked, pirated proprietary software.”

Ha. More like ‘crack cocaine’; e.g. see http://news.com.com/2100-1023-212942.html

“Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don’t pay for the software […] Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.” – Bill Gates, 1998

8. kansaisamurai - August 10, 2006

I hate Ubuntu.

9. chris26 - August 30, 2006

Well, I think he is just speaking of his own opinion. We may never know how most africans actually feel about unbuntu. But if he is speaking of the general public. Then opinion is well taken.

10. sikiş izle - September 26, 2010

Isn’t pirated software more inconvenient to begin with? You have to go through the trouble of cracking it, which may or may not take some work. I suppose they have talented people working on that, so maybe it isn’t so difficult.

11. antalya ilaçlama - September 27, 2010

William, in places like Ethiopia and East Asia, it is not uncommon to find stores selling pirated easy-to-install software CDs that don’t even ask you for the product registration code. I have seen a 8-in-1 Windows XP cd in a small shop that promises to install one of 8 varieties of XP (home, professional) etc, in a snap, without needing a registration key. So yes, pirated/cracked software can be easier to install.

12. porno sikiş - September 27, 2010

I can see why people would use pirated software, and while I do not condone such actions, I would also not condemn them. The realities of living in a third world nation may have something to do with it. The luxury of learning a totally different OS would have to take a backseat to the practicalities of life. And despite Ubuntu’s lofty goals to be user-friendly, it is still very non-intuitive to the casual user.

13. sex sikiş - September 28, 2010

I think Andrew’s earlier post about troubles using Ubuntu with winmodems is more enlightening. If your choice is between free (in terms of price) software that works versus Free software that will not let you easily connect to the Internet, I think it is clear which most people would choose.

14. porno - November 1, 2010

software that works versus Free software that will not let you easily connect to the Internet, I think it is clear which most people would choose.

15. JOB - March 28, 2011

The thing is, finding someone in Africa who knows anything about Ubuntu is surprising itself. Almost no one knows or heard about Ubuntu or linux. So even though the ‘third option’ is a plausible explanation, it isn’t necessarily true as we are taking into consideration an option – free software – that is virtually absent, at least in terms of knowledge, in the continent.


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