How many times have people accused me of “Microsoft Hater”, “Linux Zealot”, “Linux Unwashed”?  Comments like these (and many more vulgar ones) are often thrown by a Microsoft advocate with no argument to any person who dares to suggest there is an alternative to their products.  Its easy to dismiss a point of view with a single insult and the practice has been going on for years (and will for many more to come).

The purpose of this article is to report on a Linux distro and ask the question what would Linux users do?

I reported recently that I had been trying Elive and that due to the apparent lack of continuation of Wolvix (thats now changed) I was trying out many distro’s for my new distro of choice on the main rig.  With that in mind I eagerly downloaded Elive, from the professional site and the nice trailer it had me sold on at least a download and test.  And test I did.   The LiveCD functioned very speedily and was a very solid, reliable piece of software.

So far so good? Well no.  Due to limited time I had been running my secondary rig off the LiveCD and had not got around to installing it on the HD.  My mistake, if I had, I would not have wasted tweets (and lines in IRC) saying how good a replacement to my beloved Wolvix it was.

So what went wrong?  Well, whats not made clear is that Elive in fact wants a donation.  In itself not a problem at all, I fully support and champion the idea that hard work should be rewarded/supported, but Elive does it a little differently.  Firstly it requires payment before you can install it, so to me the donation comes as something of an enforced user contribution.  Secondly if you dislike the ethos of DRM, then you are not going to be happy at the fact that in order to ensure you have paid, an “install module” (unique to your PC apparently) has to be downloaded and present after payment.  Great stuff? This all came as a bit of a surprise since it is not clear on the site that you cannot install without payment, but the bigger surprise for me was yet to come if you want to get a “free” code to install Elive without payment:

Write an article about Elive on any website you like, we give you a free invitation code for this, depending of the importance of the website and how good the article is you can obtain up to 5 invitations.

Thats taken from the Elive website and found here.

Now over on reddevil62-techhead.blogspot.com/2010/03/elive-20-topaz-gem-that-comes-at-price.html which reviews the distro in detail and looking at the comments of users, on the whole this apparent covert way of asking for a donation is not well received.

But thats not my main issue with Elive and their “scheme”, what worries me is this free invitation “deal”.  I particularly dislike the part where it says “depending of the importance of the website and how good the article is you can obtain up to 5 invitations” which to me sounds like it would encourage that which Ive challenged so many times in the past – Articles on the basis of a freebie.  I wonder if this article will receive any free invites and I wonder if the average 1000 unique reads a day is deemed as important by the Elive creators?

This to me is wrong, very wrong.  I do not blindly download software, I do not skim through EULA’s or T&C’s without reading them properly, thats why I believe this whole donation scheme which the Elive creators have is rather poor.  I would not have downloaded it had I known that before I could test it on my HD I would have to either pay, or write an article about it (presumably to help promote the distro)  There is reference to payment on the site, however its far from obvious and Ive learnt a valuable lesson that even I now need to check the fine print of FOSS products….what has the world come to?

How many times have we seen bloggers who will write in the hope they receive a freebie from Microsoft?  Have we not seen articles from people where its alleged they have received a free laptop from good old MS?  If I did not highlight this distro, I would be hypocritical and I hope that it will also put an end to our Microsoft faithful who claim I only challenge Microsoft because its Microsoft.  Wrong doing is wrongdoing whether it be Microsoft, Apple or anyone else and whilst Elive may not be doing anything wrong (I’ll leave you to make your mind up), I certainly have covered similar practices in the past by other companies.

I may be strange but I only champion software which Ive actually properly tested and have an honest held belief in.  I think that to write an article with the intention of getting a freebie is not only dishonest but also very damaging to the reader who expects (and rightfully so) that whilst they may not agree with the article writer, their opinion is coming a position of not having a hidden motive.

So what’s next?  I am composing an email to send to the creators in the hope that they may have a reply to this article and in the meantime do wonder, how many invites will I get for this? – I’ll let you know.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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