>Why should I use free software as opposed to pirating non-free software?

>I think this is a topic that deserves some attention, and will perhaps be best covered if I explain my own revelations in this area.

Most of my friends use pirated software, in some shape or form. Half of them run pirated copies of Windows XP. And I know that it just seems great - you get all this expensive software for free - I used to be the same way. I couldn't afford any of it so I didn't see any harm in using it - it's not like I could've bought it anyways. Let me note right here that if you pirate software that you can actually afford - I feel no sympathy towards you. You're just being a cheap skate.

Revelation 1: Somewhere along the lines though I started thinking more about what I was doing, though. There's an entire world of free software out there for just about every imaginable purpose you could ever have. To date I have never came across anything that couldn't be done via some piece of free software. And a good part of it isn't actually all that bad - some of it is even better than commercial offerings. Sometimes it does take a while to find it, especially since some of it isn't as advertised as commercial software, but it's out there. Softpedia and Major Geeks probably became some of my biggest free software tools in my tool belt.

I also saw using nothing but free 3rd party software as kind of a fun challenge. It was easy to pirate commercial offerings. They're there and in your face and the tools to pirate them with are just as easy to obtain. But free software was a little more hidden and a little harder to find. And how many people can boast that they paid nothing for all the software on their XP boxes without pirating anything? Not many.

Once I became good at finding what I needed, I didn't ever need to pirate anything again. Some of the software I remember having on my box before I stopped using Windows:

  • Outpost firewall

  • Nvu WYSIWYG HTML editor

  • K Lite Mega Codex Pack all needed video & audio codecs + Bsplayer, Media Player Classic, and another player I can't remember the name of

There was also a lot more but I can't even remember half of it now. The point is though that I realized I didn't actually need to use pirated software. I could be perfectly happy with free software, not just for basic needs but advanced ones as well.

Revelation 2: This came a little later on. I never liked the big corporations. I knew they overpriced a lot of their software and most of the money went more towards the big wigs pockets anyways rather than the people that actually did all the work. I also knew that most of them cared very little for their customers as anything more than a way of getting more money. At one time, part of my political outlook on why it was OK to use pirated software as opposed to buying it was that very little of the money went to the people that did the work, anyways. This outlook is just plain stupid. Even if you don't pay for the software, you're helping to promote the corporation that produces it just by using it. Your friends see you use it, if someone asks you what to use to do so and so or asks what you used to do so and so that's most likely the software you're going to recommend, .etc... all in all, it's like, if not is, a form of viral marketing you're helping to push. Meanwhile, you're not helping the "little guys" out any by not paying for it. If anything you're just hurting them more. If you're that concerned about them, there is plenty of campaigning to be done for their sake.

Revelation 3: This one is perhaps the toughest to explain, and is somewhat a natural following to Revelation 2. First of all, I realized that in order to do any real protesting against the current situation, I would have to really stop using any non-free software that either didn't come from a.) a small corporation that was more likely to treat its employees better or b.) a developer him/herself or c.) open source. I had already proved it wasn't hard to do with/hard to adapt to 3rd party software. I also realized that in order to do this I was definitely going to have to dump Windows. That isn't the entire reason I dumped Windows but it was definitely part of it.

Conclusion: I'm not against paying for software, I am against using pirated software though, and semi-against proprietary code now but that's a different story altogether. There is literally no logical reason to use pirated software. There are plenty of free options available, so there's-no-other-choice is not a valid argument. And the political argument just falls flat on its face, as well as the it-takes-skill-to-do-it and it-makes-me-cool arguments. It-just-doesn't-make-sense-any-more.



>I've been noticing a major problem lately every where I go - people sending Linux newbies straight to the command line for things that can just as easily be done via the GUI. The problem with this is it just manages to keep the image of everything having to be done via the command line in Linux when that simply just isn't all that true any more *at least with some distros*. It also helps to further intimidate someone that's having a hard enough time with the learning curve as it is.

People in the forums of distros touted as being easy ESPECIALLY need to watch this kind of behavior. People don't try the easy distros because they can't wait to get waist deep in the command line. They want something "easy" i.e. GUI, see-and-click based.

You'll often hear talk of "well, they need to be broken of their intimidation of the command line as soon as possible." This reasoning is just wrong... if you take an intimidated person and throw them into the thing that intimidates them, and something goes wrong *which is highly likely with someone who's already intimidated by it*, they're likely to never go back again. Trust me, they'll approach it in their own time - and even if they don't - most of the major distros now are GUI based enough that they won't actually ever need to.

Don't yell at them for reinstalling the operating system when something goes wrong, either. Believe it or not, it's *not* a bad thing, especially for someone who's used to reinstalling Windows and losing all their system settings and possibly personal files. I reinstalled quite a bit myself starting out partially because I didn't understand the operating system yet and wanted to understand it better before I tried fixing it and partially because I honestly loved reinstalling it - not losing any settings or files is a big deal to someone used to losing everything on a reinstall. This is not Windows - a reinstall isn't the end of the world as we know it.

The thing is, Linux is becoming more and more fit for the home desktop - and as such, people need to realize that their geek OS is now gaining a softer side and embrace it, or at least allow others to embrace it.

Does this mean you should only recommend GUI methods for everything? No, of course not. There certainly are things that are easier via the command line that people may not be aware of. But you should always offer the GUI method alongside it in case they don't want to try the command line.

Remember that Linux is about freedom in choice, and allow others to have that freedom, even if their choices are different from yours.