[conspire] Burning Tools

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Apr 5 13:30:23 PDT 2012

I wrote: 

> The dependency Reese mentioned for ImgBurn was something called 'Windows
> Manager', which he says is not part of his MS-Windows installation.
> FWIW, I think you are correct and that Reese must have misinterpreted
> something he read.

Upon re-reading Reese's note, I see that Reese merely _assumed_ that 
ImgBurn would impose the same unwanted dependencies (the dot-Net
VisualBASIC stuff and 'Windows Manager') that the other one did.  Reese
chatted with me after last night's SVLUG meeting and mentioned his
problems with the two offerings he'd spotted, and I really didn't pay
attention to the details.  It was just 'I tried [foo] and [bar], and
they required me to install a bunch of things I'm not sure I wanted.'
I really didn't care about details; I just said 'E-mail me, and I'm
pretty sure I can find several alternatives without those problems.'

Anyway, thank you, James (Sundquist) for pointing out that Reese's
pessimistic assumptions about ImgBurn are unjustified.

Two side-comments:  

(1) A lot of people new to Linux and open source are mystified about
what's wrong with the concept of 'freeware', and what practical
consequences there are to something being free of charge but
proprietary-licensed.  Fortunately, that's not difficult to explain.

The biggest pragmatic problem with a proprietary application, even one
issued with right to use it at no charge, and even if the public is free
to redistribute it indefinitely, is that its copyright owner is the only
person entitled to maintain the code.  If/when the copyright owner
ceases update, everyone else is out of luck.  Almost all software needs
code maintenance over the long term, and becomes unusable (and sometimes
security-dangerous) if it isn't.

It is common for programs issued under a proprietary licence that
permits gratis usage to start sprouting more restrictions and coercions
on the user with newer versions, as the owner starts tightening the
strings after attracting users with the initial offering.  With open
source, there are no strings to tighten, because other developers always
have the option of taking over maintenance via a variant version of the
code without the obnoxious user-control additions.  With
proprietary-licensed code, in contrast, there is no safety valve of
ability by some other coder to provide an alternative version.

These are some of the reasons why licensing matters and why whether you
acquire your initial copy without monetary cost or not ('freeware') is 
not the relevant long-term question.  Almost all of the MS-Windows Web
sites providing information about programs (e.g., Softpedia) make the
error of using 'freeware' as a licensing category, showing that they
Just Don't Get It At All.

(2) The two open-source offerings I listed have something in common:  
modularity.  Unlike all of the proprietary offerings, they are graphical
Win32 front-ends to Joerg Schilling's cdrtools kit of command-line
utilities.  This model, where all real functionality is in command-line
utilities, and there is an optional graphical shell that works via those
tools, is a standard Unix model and the preferred way of offering
graphical user interfaces.  Putting all of the real functionality into
the back-end command-line tools means everything's scriptable, _and_ 
means that any number of competing graphical frontends can be created to
suit different needs and preferences.

More information about the conspire mailing list