[linux-elitists] FC: Australian charity replies to Politech post on Microsoft threats(fwd)

Eugene Leitl Eugene.Leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de
Thu Jul 19 05:13:17 PDT 2001

-- Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://www.lrz.de/~ui22204/">leitl</a>
ICBMTO  : N48 10'07'' E011 33'53'' http://www.lrz.de/~ui22204
57F9CFD3: ED90 0433 EB74 E4A9 537F CFF5 86E7 629B 57F9 CFD3

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 09:59:38 -0700
From: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
To: politech@politechbot.com
Cc: adam@comit.recruitnet.com.au, rrt@wagged.com
Subject: FC: Australian charity replies to Politech post on Microsoft

And a response from a sympathetic-to-Microsoft Politech member:
>Jesus Declan even on it's face, this is ridiculous, isn't it? am I
>missing something? They're stealing software because they can't afford
>it and Microsoft is the bad guy?

Previous Politech articles on this topic:


From: Adam Nash <adam@comit.recruitnet.com.au>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 04:06:52 GMT
Subject: Re: Microsoft threatens children's charity
To: declan@well.com
CC: ncochrane@theage.fairfax.com.au,
         "Gesie Di Sciascio" <gesie@comit.recruitnet.com.au>

Hi Declan,
I work for com.IT (Community IT Project) in Melbourne. We recycle old,
unwanted and unused computers and redistribute them for free to
community groups and non-profit organisations, as well as providing IT
skills training to unemployed and disadvantaged members of the
community, and technical support to community organisations. Our
website is currently being updated, but a rather outdated site is
available at

I would like to relate our experiences as regards licensed software.
We have given out over 500 computers and monitors to some 62
organisations in the last 18 months alone. The problem that we have
always faced is that we can give away the computers but we cannot load
Windows onto the computer unless the recipient has a valid license.
A very valid point that you raised was Why Not Load Linux? I myself am
a committed Linux user (for two reasons: I like getting my work
actually done, and I am a dyed-in-the-wool Knowledge-Is-Power worker
and believe that open source is the only practical course to a more
equitable world - I am typing this mail in StarOffice on RedHat 7.1),
but the large majority of the computers we receive are very low-end:
mainly 386 and 486 machines. The unfortunate fact is that nearly all
of our recipients, being non-technical people who only want a computer
to do admin etc, want a windowed environment, but Xwindows (as much as
I love it) will not run on anything less than a Pentium with 32Mb of
RAM and a 2Mb video card (and even then it will groan). ComputerBank,
who you mentioned in the article, know this and therefore tend to work
only with Pentium-level machines.

Consequently we refer most of our recipients to the Microsoft
Community Assistance Initiative, whereby MS will donate licenses to
community organisations up to a value of $10,000 (approx 130
licenses). This way-less-than-ideal situation is the only practical
solution for most of our recipients.

Of course, there are various different approaches to this Xwindows
problem (most significantly XDM and Beowulf, both of which we are
continuing to investigate, especially for the organisations in the
third world from whom we are receiving an increasing number of
requests. We also have had limited success using BlackBox, and we are
also investigating this further), but the vast majority of our
recipient organisations run on a shoestring budget with a volunteer
staff of one or two non-technical people who are already overworked
and therefore have no time to learn the intricacies of such

For ourselves, we have never been so naïve as to think that our
registered charity status would make Microsoft ignore unlicensed
copying and distribution of their software, and consequently have
always operated strictly within the law on this issue. In fact, we are
so sensitive to it (we are in the business of helping small
organisations, not battling corporate behemoths) that we use FreeDOS
(www.freedos.org) to boot up the recycled machines, and so that the
recipients can install their licensed copy of Windows with a minimum
of hassle. Naturally, we provide help with installation to those that
can't do it themselves.

One day, we will live in a world where corporations take
responsibility for their impact on society, but until that day comes
it makes sense to operate within the law (whether one considers the
law fair or not) using practical solutions, so as to continue to help
the needy sectors of our community.
I hope this mail is a positive contribution to this discussion.
Feel free to contact me if you require any more information on our
Adam Nash
ph: 61-3-94162604
115 Hoddle St, Collingwood, Vic, 3066


From: Adam Nash <adam@comit.recruitnet.com.au>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 07:48:29 GMT
Message-ID: <20010718.7482900@tlc.recruitnet.com.au>
Subject: Re: Microsoft threatens children's charity
To: ncochrane@theage.fairfax.com.au
CC: declan@well.com

Thanks for your reply, Nathan. I realised after I posted the mail that
I had confused who wrote what.

I actually didn't know that MS refused licenses for 3.1 and DOS. The
closest I got to finding out was a very very frustrating conversation
with a lawyer at Barbara Bridges & Assoc (MS australia's legal reps)
in which I was told, and I quote, "Windows 3.1 doesn't exist anymore"
and "DOS hasn't existed for years". Another pearl from that
conversation was her reply to my question about whether it was legal
for us to put Windows3.1 on several hundred computers that we are
sending to Kenya and Zambia: "but how would you do that, have you got
hundreds of copies lying around have you?".

Nathan, we would be delighted if you could find the time to come and
visit our organisation to find out in more detail about what and how
we do what we do. We have many current and planned activities that I
am sure would be of interest to you. In the meantime, I'll keep you
informed of our progress.

Thanks again for your reply.

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Original Message <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

On 7/18/01, 1:57:23 PM, Nathan Cochrane
<ncochrane@theage.fairfax.com.au> wrote regarding Re: Microsoft
threatens children's charity:

 > Thank you for cc'g me, Adam.

 > There may be some confusion about who said what on the Politech
 > The comments were mine, not Declan's.

 > FWIW, and you doubtless already know this, MS has refused point blank
 > allow people to use the older WFW 3.11 and DOS, which run on these
 > machines well. I used to run Windows 95 on a 486-66 with 16MB RAM, no
 > problems. That's out, also. MS won't even provide a license for these
 > obsolete systems. That could be a restraint of trade, and that's
 > under the Trade Practices Act.

 > There are a number of charities worldwide that have been shut down by
 > Microsoft in the last year. PCs For Kids is just one.

 > I am interested to hear more from you in the future about your group's
 > activities. We ran a story on recyclers in the IT section the other

 > Thanks once again for your thoughts. They are greatly appreciated.

 > All the best

 > Nathan Cochrane
 > Deputy IT Editor
 > The Age
 > http://www.it.fairfax.com.au


POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe, visit http://www.politechbot.com/info/subscribe.html
This message is archived at http://www.politechbot.com/

More information about the linux-elitists mailing list