Weblog of Nazly Ahmed

Nazly Ahmed

Nazly Ahmed

Web Developer. PHP Addict. Wordpress Hacker. FOSS Enthusiast. (Micro)Blogger. Photo Hobbyist. Cricket Fanatic. Husband. Dad.

The news Raids against 'software pirates' in Colombo caught me by surprise this morning while I was going through the news papers. I'm not sure whether similar raids have been carried out in the past but it was unexpected. I'm really glad that such action has been taken to protect the Intellectual Property Rights for software. But where does it lead to? The next target will be the general users of pirated software. But have we educated people about pirate software? Do they know the consequences of using pirated software?

As far as I can see it, 90% of the general public are unaware of the fact that they are doing something illegal. If they go to one of these outlets that sell pirated software they can buy a CD for Rs.80 ($0.75) or a DVD for Rs.150 ($1.3) quite easily. They actually think that they are paying the price for buying the software, which is not correct. The software is actually worth hundred times than that. Even if you buy a genuine copy of one of the proprietary software for its price you cannot make illegal copies of it. Because the licence clearly states that you cannot do that. Most of the tech-savvy users understand what is pirated software. But there is a non-tech crowd in other industries that use pirated software for their day to day needs without realising the fact that they are doing something illegal.

So whats the solution? Are you ready to pay over Rs.10,000 ($100) to get a genuine copy of the software? Or will you look for an alternative software which will give you the freedom to use and share among the others? The latter will be my choice. That is why I use Free and Open Source Software. I think for a country like ours using FOSS is the ideal choice for people involved in any industry. By choosing Free and Open Source Software you have

 - The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
 - The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1).
 - The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
 - The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, 
so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3).

As you can see you have the full freedom over the software unlike the software tying you down. Its important to make the public aware that for almost every proprietary software there is one or more alternative Free and Open Source Software available. I made my move to GNU/Linux as my primary operating system sometime back and never looked back since then. As I said I had more than one alternative in this case as there are hundreds of distributions for GNU/Linux. I did try Redhat Linux 9, Fedora 3, Slackware and finally settled with Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger) at that time. This doesn't mean that the other distributions I tried are bad. It means that I had choices to make before settling down with what I was comfortable with. Currently I'm running Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) on all my computers. I use FOSS for all my day to day needs. I use Mozilla Firefox for Web browsing and Mozilla Thunderbird as my email client. I use Pidgin for Instant Messaging which supports Yahoo, MSN (yes, I have friends there too :D[BigGrin]) and Google Talk. I use OpenOffice for handling all types of Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Presentations. And the list goes on.

Find FOSS alternative for your proprietary software at

What I wanted to emphasize is that there are FOSS alternatives. By using it you won't be considered a criminal. You won't be caught by the police for copying a FOSS software in a CD and selling it to someone by charging the cost for the CD. You are free to do so. More than that you can modify the source of that software. In a proprietary software the source itself is not available. Lets not consider that part for now.

It was the Lanka Linux User Group and FOSS Sri Lanka that were behind my move towards FOSS. They conduct workshops, trainings, conferences all around Sri Lanka in order to promote Free and Open Source Software here in Sri Lanka. Specially in Schools amongst the younger generation. So when ever you are in need of any help of FOSS you know where to look for. So make the move now. Don't wait till its too late.

Posted on 11th May 2008 14:19:47