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Posts tagged as “freeware”

Freeware: Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Just because software is free doesn’t mean it’s free software.

This may confuse those who only know the Windows world, where the software animal known as “freeware” is readily available but truly free software is a bit more scarce. They may be excused for thinking, when we Linux users talk about “free software,” that they use free software too. After all, doesn’t a free antivirus program qualify as free software? Or what about that gee-whiz free password manager that’ll generate and store five or six passwords–more if the “pro” version is purchased?

Linux users will also be excused for rolling their eyes before answering, “Nope. Neither of those examples is what we mean by ‘free software.'”

ZoneAlarm: Defining the Difference Between Freeware and Free Software

The other day, when my friend’s laptop spit-up a warning from ZoneAlarm that she was no longer protected, I stood over her shoulder and instructed her to update the firewall. The warning was basically a scare tactic, of course. Without the update she would still be protected, just as protected as she had been the day before. She just wouldn’t have any new whiz-bang features included in the update, nor would she be able to take advantage of any new security enhancements.

We ran the default install. This was Windows, so there had to be a reboot. After that, we opened the browser to find that the homepage had been reset to a ZoneAlarm themed Google search page. We had not opted-in to any such change; the ZoneAlarm folks had just taken it on themselves to hijack Firefox’s revenue, which I didn’t think cricket.

Christine HallChristine Hall

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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