I wrote this about three years ago. Oddly, this week, I was in a computer store buying a laptop because I needed on in a hurry. I saw two people buying the same deliberately disabled versions of proprietary software, spending money on ignorance.
In South Africa, R1600 is a lot of money, a monthly salary for many people, more for some. I suggested that he might put it back and download Open Office for free, and he would have better functionality at no cost.
"No, I, I don't pirate software," he said, looking shocked that I would even suggest it.
"Its free software, not pirate software," I said.
"There is no such thing," says he. "People don't make products for free."
Shame, poor guy, he paid R1600 for a product rendered defective by deliberate design, when he could have enjoyed greater freedom and saved R1600. Does his ignorance make it OK for him to be a digital slave? Implicitly, it is so.
Thankfully, I live mostly in digital freedom. A side benefit of this is that I almost never have to pay for software, and the software that I use is by-and-large of superior quality. I know this because I used to be a slave.
If you have the time, give Eben Moglen a listen, on the subject of software freedom.
I like his statement - "Software is what the 21st Century is made of"
This was originally posted for Software Freedom Day last year!
Given the renewing interest in reviving the South African FOSS policy, and the likely resistance to doing so, it is worth bearing these differences in mind. This is particularly true given our desire to create more innovation and more opportunities for the SMME sector in our country.