Yesterday Marion and I talked about software and more precisely about the use of illegal software. This because I bought a license for “TextPad” (a very enhanced notepad. Which makes notepad feel like something from the pre-history :p).
Marion stated that using illegal software as programmer/software engineer (and directly related professions) is like stealing from your own income. I partly agree with that. At the same time I can understand when you, as a private person, are not very willing to buy a software package of € 500,00 or more.
BUT I am convinced that in most cases there are cheaper or free to use packages available with basically the same functionality. Specially when talking about Open Source there are some awesome packages. And one thing I like about Open Source is the community around it, that ensures software of high quality without things like back doors.
Some examples? Outlook (Express) can be fully replaced by Thunderbird, an extreme flexible Open Source mail client. Nice thing is that Thunderbird is not vulnerable to macro viruses and doesn’t use Internet Explorer to display mail.
PGP, a commercial encryption package, is no better than the Open Source GNUpg. Talking about encryption, TrueCrypt (also Open Source) can encrypted data in the most secure way (up to complete hard disks). Specially on this matter you don’t want back doors.
When talking about normal photograph processing… Sure, Adobe Photoshop has more functionality than The Gimp. But how much of this functionality will one use for normal photograph processing? Not a lot. The Gimp holds a feature set that is way big enough to do some very nasty photograph-processing. Basically you can do anything with The Gimp that is needed. A complaint that is often heard is that The Gimp doesn’t support CMYK. Not correct, there is a very good working plug-in to handle that. Same can be said for automated/batch processing (another complaint you hear at times). And yes, The Gimp doesn’t support 16 bits channels (and up) yet (is planned for version 3.0). But is there for normal photograph processing any need for this? No, there isn’t. 16 Bits and up are needed when your images will be processed and printed on professional equipment for mass publishing. That rules out 99.8% of all the people who process pictures privately.
UFRaw is an excellent RAW conversion utility that can be used standalone or as Gimp plugin. For Nikon users (which I am) UFRaw has the advantage that it can read the camera’s tone curves. Even if you don’t own a Nikon, you can still apply a Nikon curve to your images.
But the list is a lot longer… Of course there is Firebird, the Open Source browser. There is FileZilla (server and client) for FTP file transfers. And we have Open Office as fully compatible replacement for MS Office. 7Zip for compression management…. and a lot more. The list is long, almost endless. There is even a Open Source Bible Study tool (for who ever may have need for that :P).
As said, I am convinced that for most commercial enclosed software there is an Open Source or Freeware replacement that will do the same trick(s).
And then there is the software that cost €20.00 or €30.00 for a license. And even of those we think we have the right to use without paying. I think here is the point to ask yourself some questions. While it is understandable that you are not willing to pay €500.00 or more for a program (and don’t want to use for whatever reason the Open Source/Freeware replacement), it not for these cheap programs. People tend to forget how many hours were needed to create and maintain these programs.
But in the end everyone has to make there own decisions on this matter. For me it is simple, for these cheap applications that I am using a lot, I will pay without any hesitation. For the more expensive software I will find a Open Source replacement.
Some examples of software that I have official licenses for:
WinZip (and I just noticed that I will have to get an upgrade some time soon… there is already a version 16)
Book Collector Pro (and Movie Collector Pro):
And there is a lot more. A search through my folder with licenses gives some nice hits (although not all is used anymore) ZoneAlarm Pro (FireWall), Trilian (Messaging), WiseBar Advance (a Menu-utility I used on my old PDA), DBViewer (a database program I used on my old PDA), VisualRoute (IP trace util), gSyncIt (util to Sync Outlook Calendar with Google Agenda), FastPictureViewer Codec (to view RAW pictures in Explorer) and so I can continue :-).
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