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An LCA 2010 overview

Feb 10, 2010, 01:32 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Benjamin Mako Hill presented the Wednesday morning keynote. He started off with a discussion of the open source/free software divide, noting that he is very much in the free software camp. The open source side, he said, emphasizes practical benefits, whereas freedom has inherent benefits. The rest of his talk was dedicated to one specific benefit (a rather practical one, in your editor's opinion) that comes with free software: freedom from antifeatures.

"Antifeatures are behaviors added to proprietary software as a way of exerting some sort of control over users. It can be a simple matter of extracting money from users - requiring them to pay more to have advertising or spyware features removed, for example. It can be a matter of market segmentation; see, for example, the several versions of Windows Vista offered by Microsoft or the removal of raw image support from some Canon cameras. Vendors may be trying to secure monopolies; software which detects third-party batteries in devices and disables the power-saving features is an example. "Protecting copyrights" is another; there are, he says, no Facebook fan clubs for dongles or the unskippable tracks at the beginning of DVDs."

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