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Monday, April 24, 2006

Open source projects crowded out by ads

SO, I wanted to print to a PDF file on my Windows XP box. I know that there must be someone who built an GNU PDF driver, but finding it was difficult. Major search engines, like Google, just can't seem to realize that what I really want is something like PDFCreator (3rd page of my search), and not the various paid and/or spyware-installing packages, like CutePDF, DocUDesk, Win2PDF, etc.

This is a common practice on the internet now. Download some open source (in this case, ghostscript), make a trivial installer or front-end for it (even if an open source one is readily available), and then either charge for it or put spyware all over the installer. Since the installer is their source code, they aren't violating the GPL.

Why isn't the open source version more prominently listed at Google? Because commercial vendors can afford to flood the internet with advertising. Using free software to provide paid-for services, is one thing. But repackaging free software with spyware is something else.

Hopefully some people needing PDF software will find this article first, before they install.

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