[conspire] Resizing NTFS

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sun Oct 20 01:13:25 PDT 2002

Quoting Heather Stern (star at starshine.org):

> The rest of this is roughly a Shareware-Advocacy HOWTO, with this case
> as a specific example.
> Q.  Should I pay this shareware fee, or can I just run off with the goodies?
> A.  If you're sure that they're "goodies" you've probably already
>     answered this for yourself ... pay up.
> Q.  How can I tell the software is worth anything to me at all?
> A.  Try it.  If it doesn't have your computer over for tea and send
>     you back a Mogwai that's been allowed to eat after midnight, it's
>     probably worth it.
>     But the real question is about value.  Did it save you enough time
>     to be worth the value this guy is charging?   For an example see 
>     below.

Just following up on that:  I received such weird and impassioned mail
in response to my suggesting Linux activists hand out copies of BootIt
NG only to people who fork over cheques to TeraByte Unlimited for the
$29.95 shareware fee that it's forced me to think over _why_ I felt this
way.  It's a number of things.

To review:  The guy who's behind TeraByte Unlimited, whoever he is,
decided to release BootIt NG as a proprietary binary, redistributable
with some limits, 30-day-trial shareware.  From the open-source
perspective, this is generous and useful but not a long-term solution,
because nobody else can maintain or fix it.  By contrast, an open-source
package can never die or become unusable as long as even one competent 
programmer cares (or is paid to care).  So, it's not the cost; it's the 

But most of the world at large doesn't get that:  They assume -- and go
around claiming -- that open-source is just a dodge for people too cheap
to pay for their software.  Further, they harbour a suspicion that we
rip off proprietary software companies whenever we can:  We use
open-source only because the better proprietary stuff is out of our
reach.  After all, we go around talking about "freedom" and "fair use". 
That must mean we're criminals and copyright violators, right?

In the DOS/Windows, MacOS, and PalmOS worlds, genuinely open-source
software has never caught on, much.  This is in part because of
shareware offerings:  Why bother writing an open-source modem program,
when everyone has Qmodem or Telix?  And all of those people who
downloaded Qmodem or Telix, or got them from a friend, are vaguely aware
that they're obliged to pay for them if they use them, but 99+% of them
just get used to ignoring such obligations, because they can.

So, DOS et al. users started developing an attitude that licences are
things that theoretically apply to you, and in an ideal world you'd read
them, but as a practical matter you just type "Yes" and use anything you
can get your hands on.  I mean, if they were serious about your paying,
they'd force you to, right?

This attitude doesn't stop with shareware.  At many companies I've
worked at -- including two proprietary software firms(!) -- people
bootleg retail software without a second thought.  Because everyone 
thinks taking licence agreements seriously and paying for what you use
is someone else's problem.

_These_ are the people who accuse _us_ -- open-source software users --
of being too cheap to pay for software, and of ripping off proprietary
software companies when we can.  They can't imagine any reason to use
open-source software other than cost.  And _they'd_ rip off proprietary
software companies in an instant, so why wouldn't we?

Which brings us back to BootIt NG:  You could read that licence
attentively, and say in all honestly that it absolutely permits LUGs
to hand out tens of thousands of copies, each to a person who will need
it exactly once, and have quantity _zero_ of those happy customers pay
TeraByte a dime.  Which is pretty much what happens with shareware,

And people hearing about this say "Well, I guess it's true that Linux
users are too cheap to pay for anything, which is the only reason they 
use open source."

What I'm saying is that it's not in our interest to participate in that
happening, and we don't have to do so.  We can tell users "You want
BootIt NG?  Fine; we'll give you a copy if you pay the shareware fee.
If you'd rather not, feel free to get a copy without our help."  Those 
users may stiff TeraByte, but at least we didn't help.  And we set a
good example.

Cheers,                     "Get the facts first.  You can distort them later."
Rick Moen                                                     -- Mark Twain
rick at linuxmafia.com

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