Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Free Vs Proprietary Debate

World War 3 is happening. Only, this time its soft-'war'e !

I have always wondered why people use stupid proprietary software when there are better substitutes available to it. (I for one, am one of those idiots, i still use windows, but that will change soon ;-)). Recently i took a list of proprietary software that have better free substitutes :-

1. Mozilla Firefox RULES over Internet Explorer.
2. Open Office is equivalent to Microsoft Office, and with the recent OOXML standards controversy (Read this Hindu article for info on this debate), Open Office is definitely the better choice.
3. Audacity (Music composing) has no comparison in the proprietary world as far as i know.
4. Linux Over Windows. Open to debate.

Then why oh why do these proprietary ones even exist? I mean, if you have this good chocolate free of cost, and a bad chocolate that you have to pay for, do you go for the good or bad one?

In other areas, the Free world is yet to catch up
- Blender is still far away from 3Dsmax or Maya
- Inkscape + GIMP is yet to beat Photoshop
- Octave and Maxima (Technical computing) require more consolidation to reach upto MATLAB,
and I dont know if theres any Free Media players that are really really good. Maybe cos I'm a noob to FOSS.

One thing is that people are so complacent using pirated copies of their software that they dont find any reason to change. Is 'better software' a reason to change? (In our college, though, Firefox has fully replaced Explorer)

The day will come when there wont be any more IExplorers and Microsoft Offices or MATLABs. This ofcourse, requires a large amount of contribution from all sorts of people, especially the software consumers who know exactly what is lacking in the software they use. That is the beauty of how the Free world works. It's a pity that the movement has yet not gathered the momentum it needs. Still, Lets hope the day of freedom is not far off.

Anybody want to help me out in contributing to Maxima ? :-)


Abhi said...

I'd say ppl use pirated versions of proprietory software because its much much easier to get than freeware. Tht's th paradox. We hav th name freeware bt we hardly get it free in India, either download from the net, which unfortunately is a very costly mode for indians or get some magazine lik digit or pc world payin atleast hundred bucks. While u get th latest version of windows fully cracked on ur pc when u buy it from any local vendor. Second thng generally indians don't giv ANY valve to freebies. Best eg our govt schools, even if thy giv btr results noone wd want ther kids in a govt school. Same goes for freeware. I do completely agree tht some apps lik firefox rule over ther contemporary paid versions, bt then firefox is among th very popular freewares. What abt awareness, other than some engineering college students who knows abt such things. We also knw only because some senior passed a good word abt linux or we get free copies of ubuntu in mail:) otherwis th aam aadmi doesn't knw these tings. If only th govt used free software we'd hav better awareness. Bt tht's nt th case. We never find a govt office running in linux, if thy used it. Tht wd spread th word. Coz even though freebies are bad to indians, somethin tht th 'govt uses ought to be good'
sorry abt th lengthy comment, bt thought i shd say wat i felt. Came across ur blog thru hari-thunderbolt's blog.

jvvas said...

I agree with Abhi... People wont go for free stuff in India. But there is another thing I have noticed. Even though most of r engg. guys have big problems with Windows they are reluctant to change. They dont even mind installing windows again but trying out linux seems to be a bad idea. The reason is simple- "Linux does not seem to be user friendly" it seems. But how can one say it without trying out. And the ease with which u use it depends on ur experience. Anyway the future is yet to come and we'll be around for some time i expect so lets see.

Hari Vishnu said...

i dont agree with ur comment about pirated versions being as freely available- yes the vendors case may be true, but this is true only of windows and some pre-installed software. How do the other software come about? theyre downloaded ofcourse, same as the other pirated propritary ones.

secondly, i completely agree with wat u said about indians not valuing free stuff.. its a problem we have.. put a price tag on it and they feel it has a brand value

thirdly.. the situation is changing.. kerala state electricity board has implemented free software only in all its offices, and this has saved them lakhs of rupees in the end. other govt sectors in kerala following suit too.

Hari Vishnu said...

its true, many ppl complain of user friendliness.. but its not true at all.. latest linux gui's are far far better and user friendly than windows..its just that ppl are used to windows.. ofcourse, when ppl think of linux they think of the conventional command line prompt, and then they run away..

linux is not just the command prompt..the command prompt makes it more powerful, but theres more to linux newbies like us can explore..

thank u both for ur comments..

Wetfingers said...

Is there any free software for PDF reader?

Hari Vishnu said...

yes man i think adobe reader IS free.. and the document format pdf is FOSS too..

wolverine said...

Mozilla vs IE... clear winner- Mozilla kicks ass!

i am not very sure about the others though.. MS Office is pretty damn good, haven used open office, but I seriously doubt if it can be better

Windows vs Linux - personal opinion here,but I find Linux is too arbit! perhaps unfamiliarity is the cause.:D

Matlab vs (???).. What on earth is there is to replace this?!

So I guess pirated stuff is here to stay :)

-=A.R.N.=- said...

Well I guess Firefox or Linux could throw some dirt in the face to IE and Windows, but at the end of the day, dedicated professional software like Matlab, 3DMAX or Pro-Engineer can NEVER be replaced by freeware I guess....because of a combination of two factors:
1. The sheer complexity of it and
2. The amount of corporate funding and marketing backing it.

True, you have support groups for Ubuntu and stuff; but it wouldn't reach the same level of support as an enterprise edition of a software.

I work for a company maintaining specialized airline software, and you can bet, no freeware will EVER come close to least in service (heck, they offer 24x7 support by phone!)

Freeware will dominate some areas, but properietary software is also here to stay!

Hari Vishnu said...


MATLAB vs x, where x = combination of octave + maxima + some more
x is still in development stage, and will hopefully beat matlab someday.. contributions to this field esp from students and faculty is so high that it is bound to beat matlab one day with some consolidation being required..

Hari Vishnu said...

@rahman :

dont underestimate the power of contribtuion man.. the foss world is growing, and so are contributions.. the very fact taht open office and firefox rule over the proprietary ones is enough proof.. i met some contributors of GIMP, who claimed that within the next 4 yrs if contributions continued, GIMP would beat Photoshop to the ground.. Similar with MATLAB, like i mentioned above to wolverine..

but ur second point is true..funding is important sometimes.. which is why the foss world is out looking for funding now..

Mahesh Mahadevan said...

I am an open supporter of free software (and have almost a repository of those, on Linux AND Windows), but then the malicious fun of cracking some piece of junk shareware is a cut apart :-)