Open Source: Our Defense Against Lousy Preloaded Software - InformationWeek

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Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
12/8/2008
11:16 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Open Source: Our Defense Against Lousy Preloaded Software

I spent a good part of the weekend helping a friend remote-repair her PC, which had suddenly gone berserk after she added memory to it. That's supposed to fix problems, not cause them -- in theory, anyway. By the time we were done, I'd gotten her sold on at least two open source programs as replacements for the ones causing this mess.

I spent a good part of the weekend helping a friend remote-repair her PC, which had suddenly gone berserk after she added memory to it. That's supposed to fix problems, not cause them -- in theory, anyway. By the time we were done, I'd gotten her sold on at least two open source programs as replacements for the ones causing this mess.

Experience has taught me, painfully, how many problems with current PCs can be traced back to the double helping of commercial software preloaded into them at the factory. Antivirus / system-protection solutions and CD/DVD burning packages are the two biggest offenders -- and guess what, it was only after removing both of those programs on my friend's PC that things returned to normal. (For those wondering: Roxio and Norton.)

Now that those are gone, she asked, what can I replace them with? For antivirus I suggested ClamAV (although I still think the best system-protection tool is an educated user), and for CD/DVD burning I pointed her toward InfraRecorder (open source) and ImgBurn (free, but not open source). Everything seems to have been running fine since then.

There are multiple ironies here -- not the least of which being that the software people pay money for was what caused the problem, and the solution lay with programs that didn't cost a dime. My own PC (and my laptop before it) came from the factory loaded with junk, and while I resented having to spend most of the first day with it uninstalling all that stuff and cleaning up after it, I knew that if I didn't do it I'd end up in the same position.

So, add this to my wishlist for the major PC makers: Break the commercial software addiction. Yes, I know you guys get kickbacks for each of the trial and full versions of your programs that you install on the PCs you sell. But how about this -- instead of simply charging us to not load that stuff, how about we pay the same price (or maybe marginally more, whatever works) and get FOSS equivalents? They'd work far better, from all I've seen, and I'm sure most people would be willing to pay a tot extra knowing they're not going to end up with days of lost productivity if one of those programs breaks.

And maybe then I wouldn't have to spend most of my weekend fixing the resulting mess.


Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/syegulalp

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