PC-BSD meets software piracy?

I have been a fan of PC-BSD for sometime now; however, it was after discovering this page that had me disturbed. Using PC-BSD’s awesome packaging methods, the webmaster of this site has apparently packaged some applications that might cause some licensing concerns. Not in violation of the GPL, as this is the BSD license in force here. No, rather the fact that we are seeing potential piracy, or at the very least, an over zealous user distributing ‘trial’ versions of Photoshop and MS Office ’97.

No Piracy After All? My discovery of this resource actually started with some Q&A regarding video codec playback for PC-BSD, which led me to stumbling on the link above. After further investigation, I discovered something that led me to believe that perhaps, there was no issue of piracy going on at all. In actuality, the scripts offered here for MS Office and Photoshop may simply be ‘installer’ PBIs instead of the full versions of the applications themselves? It certainly appears so, PC-BSD even provide users with the graphics needed to create their own PBI packages for closed source software installation.

What is even more interesting is how much much flexibility PC-BSD’ers have with their application selection than those using Linux. Rather than relying on WINE for your Windows applications, some creative users have been using the PBI packaging format to make getting those critical applications like Dreamweaver on your BSD box just that much quicker.

Is PC-BSD worth a look for beginners? With the PC-BSD 1.3.01 released and the Beta release already out for version 1.4, it may be worth looking into PC-BSD, even if your last experience was not a great one. If it was me, I would try out the Beta release, as many improvements have been made there.

For those who are generally happy their current OS, but are dying to know what is up with the the packages regarding Photoshop and MS Office, you might consider taking the Live CD for a test drive instead. I believe software installations are possible from there as well.

PC-BSD: A viable option for Windows users. I don’t think there is really any question about it, PC-BSD may actually make more sense for casual Windows users than Ubuntu Linux. And because of its very loose BSD licensing, you should not find yourself getting caught up in GPL crunch. And living in a world like Windows where closed and open source software is able to play together is pretty fantastic. Think about it, an OS where you can install IE 6 without WINE. It’s pretty wild, to say the least.

There are still a few things I enjoy more with Ubuntu than PC-BSD, but with their new Beta ready to try, I’m going to be taking the ISO for a test drive on Virtual Box later this week. The point I want each of you to understand is not to jump to conclusions as I did. When I first discovered that www.pbis.in was hosting what appeared to be proprietary software that was not legal to freely distribute, I assumed the worst. In the end, I discovered that installing closed source apps, often times designed for Windows, could easily be installed on another Unix variant. And the assumption of piracy being the motivating force behind the logos posted on random websites was for little more than doing something that these software developers should have been doing in the first place – getting their applications onto other platforms, legally.

Source: OSWeekly – column written by Matt Hartley

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