19 February 2006

Sweeping statements

On Sunday 19 February 2006 05:36, Webroot Software wrote:

Tip #2: Just Say NO! to Freeware

Um. That statement is a bit, hah, sweeping.

You probably need to qualify the term “freeware” a bit better, or choose a more accurate one which includes some shareware. You went on to explain:

Remember that old saying: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Well, it’s definitely true when it comes to freeware, which often includes spyware in its program files.

There’s another problem here: while TANSTAAFL does indeed universally apply, it is often possible to rearrange an existing situation to eliminate waste and duplication of effort. The resulting improvement can look like a free lunch without actually being one.

I call to witness Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, PuTTY, WinSCP, The GIMP, 7-Zip and the cornucopia of other capital-F-Free and capital-O-Open software available even under MS-Windows. These are the result of collaboration erasing a lot of wasted effort.

My favourite Linux distribution ships with roughly ten thousand such packages, a reasonable cross-section of the FOSS available out there, and all of them 100% spyware-free.

Deploying Firefox and Thunderbird will significantly reduce spyware infestations all by themselves, since MSIE and MSOutlook are both easier to invade and more often directly targeted by spyware (and viruses).

I appreciate that you have a marketing need to wake innocents up to the dangers they face when they install software “blind”, but you’ve used a literary grenade when you needed a sharpshooter. Some of the software I rely on daily has been caught in the crossfire.

Please publish a clarification in a future Tip.

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