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Gartner Says Linux PCs Just Used To Pirate Windows 815

LostCluster writes "CNET is reporting results from a Gartner Group report that claims 40% of desktop machines sold with Linux on them are being used to run pirate copies of Windows! The report goes on to say that this stat reaches as high in 80% in 'emerging markets', the same places that the stripped down lite version of Windows is being aimed at. Gartner's making a bold prediction that the number of machines sold as Linux desktops may eclipse the number of machines actually running Linux."
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Gartner Says Linux PCs Just Used To Pirate Windows

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  • Bollocks (Score:5, Informative)

    by TuataraShoes ( 600303 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:15AM (#10394051)
    Bollocks. All my work machines come with XP on them. The first thing I have to do is purge the damn thing and install Linux.
  • Big news! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Donny Smith ( 567043 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:17AM (#10394080)
    Big deal - that's been known since 2000.

    I have heard it first hand from resellers and h/w makers in Asia Pacific - "we bundle Linux just so that MS leaves us alone and it's up to the end users to get their copy of Windows".

    In some places shipping systems (assembled computers) without OS is either disallowed or frowned upon by MS and/or anti-piracy watchdogs, so bundling Linux is a nice excuse to avoid pre-installing Windows....

  • Perfectly Legal (Score:3, Informative)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:19AM (#10394107)
    I somewhat regularly upgrade computers or rebuild systems for family and friends. When that happens, I end up with a lot of unused copies of Windows. These are bought and payed for - 100% legitimate. So when my friends want a new Windows computer, I'm not going to re-buy a copy of windows when they already own the rights to a copy!

    But I bet they would count this as a hit for their study.
  • Re:Barebone machines (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shillo ( 64681 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:23AM (#10394160)
    > Why go through all the trouble of buying a machine with an OS when you can just get a barebones machine and then load what ever OS you want.

    Because of the strong Microsoft campaign against selling those machines as 'encouraging piracy', many vendors don't offer them at all. Others only offer this if you buy components and assemble them yourself - this is beyond many users who do want to run Linux.

    Which is what the fuss is all about - a nice MS marketing ploy is falling apart and they're taking notice.

  • Re:wow! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:24AM (#10394186)
    I paid for my copy of Windows XP and I expect to get my use out of it whether it follows MSFT's rules or not.

    You paid for a non-transferable, limited use license to run XP on the specific machine that you purchased. If you want a transferable license you can get one at Best Buy.
  • Re:wow! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kartik3 ( 590836 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:32AM (#10394297)
    Hey bud, I certainly feel for you....

    If you have a legal copy of windows XP you can find out what the key on your machine is by using the "keyfinder" utility found at:
  • Re:wow! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:37AM (#10394353)
    You actually didn't pay for the software but a very limited license on the software at a hugely discounted rate. If you want a copy without the restrictions then pay the full price for the software.
  • Case in point! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ace905 ( 163071 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:39AM (#10394387) Homepage
    This is living proof and retribution for Microsoft's monopoly on the world software market. As many people have said, why not buy a PC with *NO* operating system installed if you're just going to Pirate Windows anyways?

    The reason is, Windows on these PC's is not the Primary Operating system - it is simply the operating system *required* for certain software packages, most notably games.

    If Microsoft has such a problem with Linux users pirating windows, they can give up the monopoly on games and we'll just stop using them entirely.

    The truth is, a windows operating system installed for free is better than none at all and Microsoft knows it. The more people running their stupid O.S., even if some are pirates, the more associated software they sell, the more they keep their stronghold on bastardized HTTP, Games Software, Office Software, etc.

    Pirates give Microsoft the power to invent their own standards, in their own favour. Take away the pirates, and you take away Microsoft's market share, advertising ability, their power.

    Windows is the platform for a much larger agenda, and the pirates aren't thanked - because Microsoft knows they can punish them *and* make money from them.

    If Microsoft thought it was actually possible to wipe out piracy of their OS, they wouldn't do it.
    Long Articles by Wes Clark []
  • Re:wow! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:45AM (#10394464)
    Just try getting a laptop without windows? I did. It was easy... I simply selected "None" as the OS.

    It's all about knowing what to buy and where to buy it. I bought a Compal CL56 notebook, which is a whitebook chassis used to manufacture many other notebooks (Such as one of Voodoo PC's 15" Centrino model). Because it's a whitebook, I buy the chassis and parts seperately (Though I chose to pay $29 Canadian to have the store assemble it for me).

    Because it was not purchased from a big computer maker, but simply a computer store, there is no obligation to buy or run Windows on the notebook.
  • by elpapacito ( 119485 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:47AM (#10394493)
    The fact that there's Gartner written on it doesn't mean it is a realiable statement or word from a Holy Book of Markets.

    Indeed, let's look back in 1999 when (according to this CNN article []) some among the "prestigeous" Garnter analysis predicted :

    The Gartner Group finding is that Linux will fade from the scene following the release of the first service pack for Windows 2000.

    Service Pack 2 was really so terrific ?! Man, if Service Pack 2 can do that imagine what could an hotfix do..maybe cure plague ? Guess Nostradamus is spinning in his grave as he finally found some serious competition.
  • Re:wow! (Score:5, Informative)

    by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:51AM (#10394540) Journal
    According to his vendor and the local MS fortress his key was valid .. according to Windows it wasn't. :)

    This was probably due to using the wrong install CD. The Key checking algorithms are keyed to the versions that are shipped with the machine, so you can't use a consumer key with the Volume License Install CD, or vice versa. Its a pain in my behind, because some of my images got built with the Dell CD, and need a Dell key, and some got built with our VL CD, and need a VL key.

    Its possible a smaller vendor is distributing the wrong CD with his legitimate keys (shows horrible QA, BTW)

    Of course, given the number of licensed to run Windows PC's I have that are actually running Linux, this just reinforces my thoughts that Gartner sells its soul to whomever is buying this week. "Yes sir, you want an independant study? What would you like the conclusion to say? 3 = 5? Not a problem sir!"

  • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:52AM (#10394561) Homepage Journal
    The one this post is being sent from was purchased with Linux, and is still running it. I have second desktop that was the same.

    At home I have four computers (firewall, SO's desktop, my desktop, server) all of which were purchased with Windows on them. One still runs Windows full-time (SO's), one runs it every now and then (my desktop for games) and the other two have been purged of Windows and Linux is the only OS on them.

    I also have a laptop for work that I use for support. It dual-boots, and I have a policy of never wiping Windows from laptops because I always end up getting some funky PCMCIA card that I need for some work thing or other and the vendor hasn't shipped a Linux driver (and no one has reverse-engineered it yet).

    If you want to talk about non-desktops, I've accounted for about 1000 machines being purchased with Linux, and they've all remained Linux boxes. I've accounted for maybe 3 Windows servers in my career.
  • Re:wow! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:54AM (#10394583) Homepage
    Well, no not really. You can't use WinXP unless you agree to their rules. It's in the EULA, and regardless of how you feel about the EULA (it stinks), that's the way it works. Here's a plan: If you can't stand M$ Rules, don't use M$ Products, use the Linux desktop which is perfectly adequate. If you "need" to use M$ Products, it's likely you need it for games or such, well, than you got to pay the M$ Tax...
  • Re:wow! (Score:5, Informative)

    by chris_mahan ( 256577 ) <> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:55AM (#10394595) Homepage

    I bought a computer at a local store. The guy fished through a boxed and handed me a nice shrinked-wrapped windows licence with Getting started guide and CD. I pushed it back to him across the counter and said: "Keep it for the next guy, this machine won't be running windows."

    He smiled and said, "Cool".

  • Re:Bollocks (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @11:01AM (#10394705)
    Here's a link to one of many stories on the net about this: []

    The case was Softman v. Adobe. It is several years old, and it's been a while since I've looked into it. Basically, the court said, the customer bought the product, he owns it, he may redistribute it like any other product. You do NOT have the right to tell him what he can and cannot do with it via an EULA once he buys it.

    You'll want to double check all this stuff to make sure I got it right, and that nothing has changed since. But there is legal precident on our side.
  • by paranode ( 671698 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @11:05AM (#10394771)
    What they fail to realize is that the common factor in pirating Windows is a computer without Windows, not just computers preloaded with Linux. The fact that these computers are being sold with Linux is just a distraction. Many people build their own computers just so they can pirate Windows and not have to pay the higher price to include the OS. Should we then disparage the selling of separate computer components as conducive to Windows piracy?

    This is a huge logical fallacy to imply that Linux has anything to do with these people's intentions. They are trying to save money and so they buy very cheap pre-built computers and pirate Windows.
  • Re:wow! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Electrum ( 94638 ) <> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @11:13AM (#10394888) Homepage
    Apple keeps far tighter control over hardware and OS than Microsoft.

    As is expected, considering Apple makes both. If Microsoft made a PC, would you expect it to come with anything but Windows?
  • Re:Bollocks (Score:5, Informative)

    by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @11:13AM (#10394900)
    A few of my own auctions have been terminated for this reason (I was very candid about the OEM status), so if there's a legal defense for this, I'd like to know.

    It's call the doctrine of first sale.
    It's a legal concept that says when I buy a copy of something that is copyrighted, I get a certain set of rights by default. One of those is the right to resell it.

    MS would have to believe that their EULAs constitute a valid legal agreement, and remove that right, but that's about as legaly enfocable as someone selling a house and leaving a sticker on the door that says, "by breaking this seal, you agree to these additional terms...".

    You can't force someone to argee to a contract, by putting a sticker on something that's legally THEIRS.
    If MS wants their EULAs to be legally valid, they need to be "signed" when the money is exchanged.

    Imagine if you bought a new car and there was a sticker on the lock that said "By removing this sticker, you agree never to resell this car".
    It's total nonsense.

    In the case of ebay, you want to point them to THIS [] news item:
    The judge, in the case Adobe vs Softman heard in the Central District of California, has ruled that consumers can resell bundled software, no matter what the EULA, or End User License Agreement, stipulates.
    Then tell ebay that they are attemping to enforce liscense restrictions that the supreme court has ruled illegal.
    You could point out that by having such a policy they are therefore opening themselves up to lawsuits frow people who just want to execise their own legal rights.
  • Re:wow! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @11:27AM (#10395136)
    So how much did he discount the PC?
  • by hacker ( 14635 ) <> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @11:32AM (#10395208)

    "Linux wil run on most, if not all desktop computers currently running Windows."

    In fact, Linux runs on about 23 additional architectures that Microsoft can't even remotely support with their most-flexible embedded target.

    • Diverse PDA / embedded / microcontroller / router [] devices:
      • Advanced RISC Machines, Ltd. ARM [] family (StrongARM SA-1110, XScale, ARM6, ARM7, ARM2, ARM250, ARM3i, ARM610, ARM710, ARM720T, and ARM920T)
      • Analog Devices, Inc.'s Blackfin DSP []
      • Axis Communications ETRAX series [] ("CRIS" = Code Reduced Instruction Set RISC architecture)
      • Elan SC520 and SC300
      • Fujitsu FR-V []
      • Hitachi H8 [] series
      • Intel i960
      • Intel IA32-compatibles (Cyrix MediaGX, STMicroelectronics STPC [], ZF Micro ZFx86)
      • Matsushita AM3x []
      • MIPS-compatibles (Toshiba TMPRxxxx / TXnnnn [], NEC VR [] series, Realtek 8181 [])
      • Motorola 680x0-based machines (Motorola VMEbus boards, ISICAD Prisma [] machines, and Motorola Dragonball [] & ColdFire [] CPUs, and Cisco 2500/3000/4000 series routers)
      • Motorola embedded PowerPC [] (including MPC / PowerQUICC I, II, III families)
      • NEC V850E []
      • Renesas Technology (formerly Hitachi) SH3/SH4 (SuperH: link1 [] link2 [])
      • Samsung CalmRISC []
      • Texas Instruments's DM64x [] and C54x DSP [] families
    • Intel 8086 / 80286 [] .
    • Intel IA32 family: i386, i486, Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Pentium III, Xeon, and Pentium IV processors, as well as IA32 clones from AMD, Cyrix, VIA, IDT, Winchip, NexGen, Transmeta, VIA C3 Ezra "CentaurHauls", and others.
    • Intel/HP IA64 []: Trillian/Itanium/Itanium2
    • AMD x86-64 Hammer [] family (including AMD Opteron)
    • Motorola 68020-68040 [] series (with MMU): m68k Mac [], Amiga, Atari ST/TT/Medusa/Falcon, HP/Apollo Domain, HP9000/300 [], sun3 [], and Sinclair Q40 [].
    • Motorola/IBM PowerPC [] family: Most PowerMac [] (including G3/G4/G5) / CHRP [] / PReP [] / POP [], Amiga PowerUP System [], and IBM PPC64 [] (AS/400, RS/6000).
    • MIPS []
  • Re:validity of EULA (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Infamous Grimace ( 525297 ) <> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @12:14PM (#10395529) Homepage
    Difference here is that with a rental agreement, you sign something. What the parent post is saying is that they never saw the agreement, never clicked 'I agree to the terms', never had the option to click 'I do not agree to the terms', and never signed their name to an agreement.

  • Re:Bollocks (Score:3, Informative)

    by bleckywelcky ( 518520 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @12:19PM (#10395602)
    When a CD comes in a slip case with the open side covered by one of those stickers, I just pull out my scissors and cut off the other end of the slip case. I get my CD out and the sticker was never tainted! :)
  • Nit Picking ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Allen Zadr ( 767458 ) * <Allen DOT Zadr AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @12:19PM (#10395610) Journal
    The Keys are different for "OEM License (what ships on that restore disk)", "Volume License" and "Retail". Most licenses sold are part of an OEM license.

    Most likely the original user is trying to use an Install disk to do a dual-boot, but because the only available OEM copy of Windows is an "FDISK, Format and Re-install" recovery disk, he's S.O.L. on using a Retail disk.

    The best thing to do is contact the seller of the PC, and ask for a Windows XP OEM installation CD that doesn't FDISK the system first.

  • Re:wow! (Score:3, Informative)

    by hai.uchida ( 814492 ) <> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @12:28PM (#10395714)
    On the other hand, since they cost the same amount as OS X machines, you'd be better off buying one from Apple and then selling the install DVD (which is transferable and can be used, for example, by someone with an older version of OS X)

    OS X is also pre-installed on the Yellow Dog machines (I don't think Apple would let them get away with a Linux-only box.) I would assume you get all of the standard install and restore DVD's, too. They're really just acting as a reseller here, selling otherwise stock machines with Yellow Dog installed too.

  • Re:wow! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dashing Leech ( 688077 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @12:57PM (#10396082)
    Physical material cost (for the item itself and the equipment required to build the parts) prevents it [copying].

    You are mixing and matching a bunch of cases that muddle the issue. There are at least 4 cases here in:

    Software: Copying is easy, cheap, but illegal (except for fair use). This is the one that's at the core of the discussion. The main issue is that people license software instead of owning the copy they get, unlike just about any other product.

    Natural material goods, like lettuce: Copying is impossible, but legal. I don't think anybody would complain if we could.

    Manufactured material goods, like an automobile: Copying is hard, expensive, but generally legal (except if violating a patent).

    Copyrighted material goods, like a book: Copying is relatively cheap and easy, especially if scanned in, but illegal.

    From the above list, you'll see that software and books are very similar. Both can be copied cheaply and easily. Books can be scanned it and distributed through P2P. The original question I think asked how come I can buy a book and do with it as I please (except copy it) but not the same with software for which we license it, sometimes with severe and inconvenient restrictions? It is a valid question. The ease and cheapness of copying does not differentiate books from software, both are generally quite easy and cheap. The difference seems to lie in the fact that software naturally comes in a form that can be copied and a book has to be converted from physical to electronic (via scanning, for instance). It's not as clear a difference as some would believe.

  • by HoneyBunchesOfGoats ( 619017 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:14PM (#10396337)
    Just for completion's sake, there is another set of product keys, for academic / MSDN distributions, which will not work on the distributions mentioned above.
  • XP hacking (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:38PM (#10397379)
    Hum. Have 5 Linux servers ((4) Slackware 10.0 and 1 9.1) sitting here in my computer room. All came with XP and none can be moved to another computer in the building, and Microsoft expects me to believe that there getting robbed... by those darn pirats... whatever.....

    and they wounder why ther customer base is getting pissed at them and moving elsewhere..
  • Re:validity of EULA (Score:4, Informative)

    by Grant_Watson ( 312705 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:47PM (#10397474)

    Ignorance is not a defense.

    The maxim is, "Ignorance of the law is no defense." Other kinds of ignorance often are.

    IANAL, but IIRC you have to have had an opportunity to read a contract before you can agree to it. If you were never presented with it, like the above poster said... well, how can you be bound by it?

  • Re:wow! (Score:1, Informative)

    by KingPunk ( 800195 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:58PM (#10397593)
    according to the fair use act, you are allowd to do whatever you want with whatever software you
    legally own, as long as it isn't for commercial use. this includes, making one legal copy for
    backup/archival purposes, transfering your software to any machine you own.

    and the license isn't legally binding. thats the best thing about it.

    i am a computer vendor that sells both ms and unix-like operating systems. i must put my two cents in when it comes to who is a pirate. 99% of
    the people who have purchased a linux, or *BSD system from me, have brought it back in within the time of my "limited support" agreement with them,
    to take classes, and whatnot and learn about their rights AND responsibilites as a computer user, as
    well about how to operate their unix-like enviroment.
    i also must include that i have rarely seen one
    pirate a microsoft opersting system, with
    computers that i've sold them, because overall they're satisified with the services that i
    provide, along with the pride of owning something,
    that gives back to the community.

    not to mention, its significantly cheaper ;)
  • Re:where the f**k? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MrResistor ( 120588 ) < minus poet> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @06:55PM (#10399770) Homepage
    I was wondering the same thing. Apparently the answer is "Anywhere in Canada." Who knew there was a reason to go there?

  • Re:wow! (Score:2, Informative)

    by gpw213 ( 691600 ) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @06:58PM (#10399789)
    The main issue is that people license software instead of owning the copy they get, unlike just about any other product.

    While this is what the software vendors would like you to think, the truth of the matter is much less clear.

    Some software is very clearly licensed. A company will often license software needed to do business. Corporate representatives will meet with vendor representatives. Terms are negotiated. Eventually, a license agreement is signed. Only then is premission to use the software obtained.

    Walking into a retail store, handing the clerk some cash, and walking away with a CD is a very different situation. The validity of EULAs, shrink-wrap, and click-thru licenses is very much in doubt. They have been upheld in some courts, and completely thrown out in others.

  • Re:where the f**k? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Canberra Bob ( 763479 ) on Friday October 01, 2004 @01:53AM (#10402167) Journal
    I've been a Linux user for nearly a decade, and I have never found a decent place to get laptops without 'doze
    Try here [] ;-)

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.