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Are you concerned about the Microsoft $3 software?

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ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13

... then read on.

It all starts with my electricity bill. For various reasons I was refunded 20,7 eur. on my bill last week-end. Not wanting the money to vanish in everyday expenses, I was thinking about what could be done with it.
And then I read more about the $3 Microsoft software. Mind you, it's just another classic move - this happens all the time around us, in fact I was pretty well prepared to do this kind of things myself, as part of any corporation. Analyze the market, understand your competitors, understand the customers, expand, segmentate, differentiate. Once you've had a hand at it, things like the $3 dollar software sound incredibly obvious and predictable.
Curious to see how the competition for GGL was doing, I surfed on the cool microsoft.com website - pretty impressed at how they match graphics and colors to make you feel you're special and deserve to use their products. I landed on the page about the $3 software - I was infuriated.

You see, Ikea pretending they're bringing your family together, Porsche telling you they sell ecological cars, I really don't mind anymore. But seeing Bill Gates presented as a hero giving "Unlimited Potential" to "empower both teachers and students everywhere" and be the one helping "the estimated 5 billion people that have yet to realize the benefits of technology" - ugh! Who on earth do they believe they are?
I have seen Microsoft extend its iron fist where it shouldn't have been - in schools in particular, from France (where I worked as an apprentice teacher) to Mali (through the eyes of a small humanitarian association ran by a close friend). Had it been cars or furniture or even computers - it's mostly fine with me. But software! It is my deep belief that software simply has nothing to do with the rest. I put my greatest hope in this concept of sharing knowledge - that empowered by this ability to copy ad infinitam, to build upon their own work, and to collaborate, humans can really do something great.
Replacing software with black boxes throughout the world just feels like wasting our chance. We're back to selling cars or TVs.

So. walking around with 20eur in my pocket and a boiling mind, I thought why not spend a day trying to do something about this. I paused working for GGL for 24 hours and concentrated on the $3 software. I spent 10eur on a new domain name, and after a week of various network problems with my host, here it is:

www.3dollarsoftware.org

I see this as a personal move. But if you believe it fits within the scope of the GNU/Linux Matters association, then maybe we can integrate it in our projects. In this case I'll gladly "open up" the files in an SVN repository so everyone can participate. I don't intend to spend much time on this anymore. I simply feel happy that I kicked as hard as I could when I felt like it.

And the remaining 10eur? I'm still undecided whether to buy 3.33 Unlimited Potential suites, or modestly contribute to tiny development projects in Mali ;-)

Greetings

Olivier.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21
3dollarsoftware.org
3dollarsoftware.org wrote:

Free software powers the One Laptop Per Child, ...

maybe not

Something else: it would be neat to have a few links to pages where you can donate to free software projects, so we can give our $3 to the right people Smiling .

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Acting progressively on

Acting progressively on your instinct again Olivier, I like it! Smiling Very good page.

tbuitenh wrote:

Something else: it would be neat to have a few links to pages where you can donate to free software projects, so we can give our $3 to the right people Smiling .

Excellent idea! Smiling

Gustavo's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-11
Great idea! And yes, I

Great idea!

And yes, I think it might be a GLM project.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
tbuitenh wrote: maybe
tbuitenh wrote:

maybe not

I'll wait and see a little to see how this MS involvement turns out (it doesn't look good).
Still for now I believe it is Free Software that powers this project (not merely running on the computer).

About a page titled: "What could be done with $3 in software?": why not? I'm afraid we might enter a lot of controversy with this though.

Thanks for the compliments. If no-one opposes I will merge this into the GLM projects (and put a small note on the site that it's hosted and endorsed by GLM).
In any case here is the svn repository: http://svn.getgnulinux.org/3ds [RSS feed to changes] Anyone with an SVN account on GGL or translation has write permission to it.

In an effort to influence search engines, I'll add the url of the site to my signature...

Cheers!

Olivier.

guyjohnston's picture
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Joined: 2007-03-05
Good idea

I think that is a good idea. Have you thought about selling gNewSense CDs for $3 through it? One suggestion I have is that I'd avoid talking about choice, and just talk about freedom instead, as choice doesn't always give you a lot. Having the option of using Windows or Mac OS X, or the option of being locked in one prison or another both give you choice, but neither of them give you freedom.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
update

Guyjohsnton, I think the paragraph you are referring to (on choice) is not that well-phrased.
Overall I definitely agree that freedom is what matters, not choice. I was simply trying to show, in addition to that, that there is great irony in the language they use, and that open formats are a key for a healthy computer world.

For the "what to do with $3" idea... I really think this is going to stir more controversy than anything else.
If we point to a $3 product, by a company or by ourselves, then we risk losing credibility ("they are doing this site for their promotion").
If we point to a distro (say gNewSense) and suggest a donation to the distro maker, then we might additionally contribute to that myth "free software is non-commercial, it requires donations to keep working". Without even speaking of distro choice problems.
The only possibility I see that limits this, is making a link to 1 or 2 distributions and then suggest making a donation to MSF - that is well within the "humanitarian" theme butchered by Unlimited Potential. (GGL used to have a donation page like that, which I removed since I'll add donations to us very very soon).
Any thoughts?

I added the mention

3dollarsoftware.org wrote:

This website is hosted and endorsed by the GNU/Linux Matters non-profit

at the bottom of the page, I hope this is allright with everyone.

Thank you

Olivier.

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
3dollaraddiction?

RMS suggested that we name that website 3dollaraddiction.org .

I understand that most members here do not mind too much...

Gustavo wrote:

This is what I suggest:

We might replace "How helpful is the $3 software?" by "Microsoft 3$ software: The 3$ addiction". Also, we could add this as one of the reasons on why this is wrong (as suggested by RMS):

Quote:

Microsoft even offers some software for free, but you are not free while you have it. Have you not realised that, just like drugs, the first dose is free because the goal is to get people addicted?

Personally I believe the addiction is only a small part of the problem. We always get addicted to things - in fact when I (rarely now) have to use a Windows computer, I find myself swearing at the cluttered start menu and the all-powerful antivirus. Simply because I am addicted to Gnome and GNU/Linux.
Ultimately the addiction is simply a matter of interface, and everyone (free, semi-free and proprietary software developers) works at that.
The important aspect, IMO, is the openness, the compatibility, the allowance for customer choice, ultimately the freedom.
Does this sound sensible?

Whistler's picture
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Joined: 2006-01-03
I've added this page to the

I've added this page to the translation wiki.

btw, would you please limit the edit permission to registered users only ? (the wiki has been spammed for several times...)

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
Great, thanks very

Great, thanks very much!
I'd be much more efficient if you used the SVN repository directly. Feel free to add a sub-directory with the translation.

Changing every GGL page (including this site) to DocBook, so that we can stop using wikis, is still my #1 to-do item. But I am submerged with things to do and since it involves lots of learning, it takes time.

I changed the permissions to the wiki.

Olivier.

Gustavo's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-11
Hi! Regarding changing the

Hi!

Regarding changing the domain name:

Gustavo wrote:

That's a very small project, just like the budget is small... So I think we shouldn't register another domain name. Even if someone donates money for the new domain, that money could be spent on something better. It's just my opinion.

Talking about addiction:

Gustavo wrote:

Addiction itself is something normal, not an issue; we all have addictions. The problem arises when someone else takes advance of a harmful addiction in order to make a profit. Thus, we should not address "software addictions", but people who take advance of "harmful software addictions", like Microsoft.

Cheers!

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