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Opensource: The cure to Software Piracy

Software Piracy, as defined by Wikipedia refers to several practices which involve the unauthorized copying of computer software.
There is an unspoken consensus, especially in this part of the world, regarding Software Piracy. For computer users to be productive, certain tools must be present on their computers. This includes, but is not restricted to, an Office Suite, browser, Media Player, etc. Some of these tools are already present with the Preinstalled Operating System that comes with your computer, however, some others are not, most notably, the Office Suite.
The first impulse for most honest individuals would be to go to the markets to purchase a copy of that particular software they need. However, on getting there, they are hard pressed to find an original copy, and even when they do, it is so expensive, that most average folk can’t afford it.
The last resort is therefore to buy that 200 Naira recordable CD containing a pirated copy of that software we so desparately need, install and get some work done. Others more conversant with technology will take to the torrent and file sharing sites, search for, and download the appropriate file.

This scenario I have painted above obviously does not mirror the collective behaviour of software pirates. Some of them have decided not to buy any software ever in their lives, even if it is brought right to their doorsteps.

However, for those of us that get a guilty conscience when we copy that executable file from our friends, or download that software from torrent sites, there might be redemption for you yet.

Over the last couple of years, I have began a slow but steady migration from Proprietary software over to free and opensource Software. It all started with dualbooting my computer with Ubuntu Linux.

I know some readers might not be as impulsive or do not want to dive into something completely unfamiliar. Luckily, most Opensource software are also available for windows (some are even exclusively built for windows).

With opensource software, you don’t have to feel guilty when copying that file from a friend or downloading it online, because, that is what you are expected to do. It is even stated in the Licence for most Open source software. It your right.

There is a reoccuring argument that Opensource software is always substandard and not on par with their Proprietary alternative. However, as you will soon realise, this is not the case most of the time. For example, I am typing this post in OpenOffice.org Writer, An equivalent to Microsoft word, and all the features I have found invaluable on MSWord are right here, and even more, such as the “export to PDF function”.

Most Opensource software is developed by volunteers in their spare time or non governmental (not for profit) organisations. Therefore, they mostly only require donations from those that can give.

Since Opensource software is free to download and share, there is really no harm in trying them out and one might be pleasantly surprised how good they are. You might even already be using one or two opensource software without realising it.

Below, is a list some of the most popular Opensource Software and their Proprietary (and mosttimes more well known counterparts)

1. Mozilla Firefox (Internet Explorer Alternative)
2. OpenOffice.org (Microsoft Office Alternative)
3. The Gimp (Photoshop Alternative)
4. Paint.net (MSPaint or even Photoshop Alternative)
5. Blender (3D Max or Maya Alternative)
6. VLC Media Player
7. Dia (Microsoft Visio Alternative), etc.

The list is limitless. To find an appropriate opensource alternative to any proprietary software you might be using, the best place to go is osalt.com.

As we see free and legal alternatives to Proprietary software that offer the same, and even sometimes better functionality, I hope that we will begin to cut back on Software piracy in all forms.

NB: If you clone a system, or buy a system without an Operating System, there are always Opensource Operating Systems you can Install.

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Portable Applications

It is common place in most offices to have administrative priviledges removed from end-user PCs. This is usually done to prevent unauthorised installation of softwares or hardwares on such PCs. Unauthorised software installation is usually a primary source of introduction of malicious softwares that may cripple a computer network.

This write-up may seem like a FOR-TECHIES-ONLY, a little patience please.

I had come across Portable softwares a number of times before now but i never really paid much attention to them. But on EYEBEEKAY’s insistence, i decided to surf the web to check out what it’s all about. Man, i sure have been missing a lot! I have decided to summarize my findings in this short write-up.

Portable applications or Portable apps, as they are commonly known, are not much different from your regular softwares. Wikipaedia defines a portable app as a computer software program that is able to run independently without the need to install files to the system it is run upon. They are commonly preinstalled on removable storage devices such as USB flash drive or CDs (For those have their USB ports locked down).

Almost any application can be made portable, some with greater difficulty while a few cannot because of their high dependence on system resources.Luckily, most basic softwares that we all use on a regular basis are portable.

Yeah, Portable, but why go portable?

– Bypass administrative level restriction. Use your regular softwares on any PC anytime, anywhere.
– Reduce the clogging up of your computer registry, a primary cause of system instability.It leaves a Zero, or near zero registry footprint.
– Have all your regular applications available for use on any PC, saving time on the installation of the same softwares on every PC you use.

So, how do we create portable apps? Well, there’s a little problem there. There are a few softwares that can be used to convert  applications to portable formats and VMWARE’s THINAPP is probably the best to achieve this but with a stunning and shocking price tag of about US$5000, God Have Mercy! Another alternative is Xenocode ($1599). Make your choice.

For now, we will limit ourselves to ready-made portable apps. A very good repository can be found on Portableapps. Others include Techsupportalert, Appstogo and Portablefreeware

Contributions anyone? Eyebeekay, you started this.

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Free Softwares

The allure for free softwares is definitely not a Nigerian thing alone, who doesn’t love a bargain? Free Softwares, as we commonly know them around here, has two broad classifications; FREE SOFTWARE and FREEWARE. There seem to be some ambiguity here but, yes, there is a distinction. Citing Wikipaedia, these two classifications of softwares can be better differentiated with an understanding of the latin words, GRATIS and LIBRE.