The truth about open source and piracy

There are a lot of stereotypes about Linux users as socially awkward too-long-bearded 30-somethings living in their parents’ basements hacking illegally into government servers and indulging in “free” software that’s really pirated software. After all, isn’t that why Linux users use filesharing programs like Frostwire or visit sites like PirateBay?

The truth is that many open source advocates are against software piracy because piracy of proprietary software hurts open source adoption, and if you use open source software, there’s no reason to pirate. I know people who are dependent on Adobe Photoshop, and so when they can’t afford Adobe Photoshop, they pirate it. Same deal with Microsoft Office. Well, there’s never a time I can’t afford GIMP or OpenOffice. They offer freedom and they are cost-free.

Bill Gates may not always be ethical (or pretty to look at—sorry, but it’s true!), but he is a savvy businessperson if nothing else, and here are some of his insights into piracy:

From Gates, Buffett a bit bearish (2 July, 1998):

Gates shed some light on his own hard-nosed business philosophy. “Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don’t pay for the software,” he said. “Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

and from How Microsoft conquered China (17 July, 2007):

Today Gates openly concedes that tolerating piracy turned out to be Microsoft’s best long-term strategy. That’s why Windows is used on an estimated 90% of China’s 120 million PCs. “It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not,” Gates says.

There you have it from the man himself. Who should be (and probably are) against piracy more than anybody? The Linux and open source people.


  1. The more people get the more they ask for. That is why someone refuses to shift to an open source environment where one would have to work a little bit harder(sorry, but till now it’s true) to get all those things going and as easily as in a proprietary environment. Not all believe in learning through sharing. That is why the basics of socialism are unheard today in spite of having a bright outlook(sorry to deviate off the course). “Why would I put up with inconvenience by having a GNU/Linux OS?” is a question that can be smelt in air in place of what should have been “Why would I steal?”.

  2. Well, didn’t found any way to contact you besides comments.

    So I’m having a question. your ubu linux resource page has given me some very nice tips but especially the german community never has heard about your site. So my proposal: If your scripts and other information ’bout ubuntu are licensed gpl or cc (or any other free way) I would be proud of translating your information into german and of giving you some mirror space for that stuff.

    regards – siyman

  3. Thanks for the install of flash for Ubuntu 7.10. I cant tell you how frustrating it was trying to get it to work. Once i found your tutorial boom it worked. thanks.

  4. I don’t know if it has officially been released under a certain license, but I would love for you to translate it. Please do post back here a link to the translated site, though, as I’d love to have that.

  5. Sorry didn’t replying to you but I dazed around and was waiting for an e-Mail ;) So, thx for your support. I think I will gain some time the next week to translate a bit and bring it up to my blog.
    Pls e-Mail me so that I would be able to tell you about the progress – siy

  6. One of the Best Open source Windows Software which I know are
    1. Mozilla Firefox
    2. Google Chrome
    3. Apache Open Office
    4. LibreOffice
    5. Thunderbird

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