Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Things Don't ''Ad'' Up

Filed under

Over the last few weeks I have addressed licensing and usability issues with GNU/Linux desktops. One of the points raised against my arguments had to do with the need for companies providing Free Software to make money, namely, the need for Trolltech to make money. It is with the greatest irony that I now find myself discussing one of the new features in KDE 3.5 (although not exclusive to KDE) intended squarely at preventing some from receiving their dues.

For my entire time in the GNU/Linux world, I've made it a habit not to run pre-beta code. I just do not get along well with it. I remember countless hours downloading KDE CVS code, and it usually got me nowhere. That's not unexpected, after all, if bleeding edge development releases worked perfectly, why would organizations ever bother to release "final" versions? I say this in passing to note that I am commenting on what I read about the upcoming KDE 3.5 from Jure Repinc's preview of a few new features, and not from my own first hand experience.

After seeing his preview of "AdBlocK," I did some more research to confirm that this was indeed included in the official code of Konqueror, which, to the best I could discern, is, in fact, the case. This is singularly disturbing. While Firefox has become known for its AdBlock plug-in, this feature has remained outside of the core, official distribution. Considering the ethical ramifications of advertising blocking software, this is how it should be.

Before discussing that further, I note that KDE is not alone in doing this, so I do not want to single them out. GNOME may very well be planning to include something similar. Moreover, companies like Symantec have offered Internet utility suites in recent years that block ads; in fact, at least some editions of Symantec Internet Security blocks ads by default. This is morally wrong.

Go back to the days of the original Napster for a moment, please. In those days, as now with other similar P2P services, such as KaZaa, the argument is made that since digital copying does not cost anything to the producer, it is not really stealing. I have a view on this issue, but that is beyond the scope of this article. Unlike music piracy (or sharing, if you prefer), blocking ads - the form of payment on many web sites - is not just depriving an entity of profit, but also actually causing it to lose money. While many outside of web publishing do not know this, content providers pay a specific amount per gigabyte of data transfers per month. On busy sites, this can add up to a substantial cost. Every visitor's downloads of text, images and so on, costs money to providers, such as Open for Business. We, as the publishers, then use that money to offset the cost of bandwidth.

Unlike pop-up and pop-under ads (not to mention malware), the standard ads that ad blockers seek to stop from appearing do not intrude on the user. If you do not like the way a site looks, it is as easy as clicking the back button in your browser to escape the tackiness and move on to something better. Nothing lost for the user, or the content producer.

Some have argued that it wastes their bandwidth to download ads they do not want. This is missing the point. In most cases, at least in the United States, the user has an unmetered plan, and therefore it costs nothing extra to download the ads. Moreover, even if it did cost more, it is the web surfer's decision to begin the transaction with the web site. Yes, you are paying for your Internet access, but that is just like paying for gas to drive to the store. It costs me money to drive to the store, but that does not mean I can grab some merchandise and walk out without paying for it "because it cost me money to be here."

It is ironic that some of the same people who will slam this author for critiquing KDE's dependence on Qt, by suggesting I am cruelly arguing against Trolltech people making a living, will almost certainly defend the use of tools that not only prevent content providers from making their living, but actually causes the content providers to spend money providing services to those people who fail to pay the "cost."

I recommended an amicable solution to the KDE/Qt problem: I did not suggest KDE do anything to illegally or immorally harm Trolltech, but rather suggested maybe the two should part ways. You can agree or disagree with whether that is a good idea, but either way, I am not advocating anything immoral. Finding alternatives is exactly the thing I also advise here. Those unwilling to pay the price of free content providers ought to seek alternatives: either non-commercial entities providing the information that is desired, or perhaps finding a subscription service to buy the information from.

Simply removing the ads - regardless of the tool used - is only robbing the content provider by taking something that costs money and refusing to pay the price. It is immoral, and I'm not so sure it shouldn't be illegal too.

Think about that before you enable ad-blocking software on any OS or in any browser. How would you feel if you where the one providing the content?

By Timothy R. Butler
Editor-in-Chief, Open for Business.

More in Tux Machines

KDE Leftovers

  • Integrate Your Android Device With Ubuntu Using KDE Connect Indicator Fork
    KDE Connect is a tool which allows your Android device to integrate with your Linux desktop. With KDE Connect Indicator, you can use KDE Connect on desktop that support AppIndicators, like Unity, Xfce (Xubuntu), and so on.
  • FirstAid – PDF Help Viewer
    in the recent months, I didn’t find much time to spend on Kate/KTextEditor development. But at least I was now able to spend a bit more time on OpenSource & Qt things even during work time in our company. Normally I am stuck there with low level binary or source analysis work. [...] Therefore, as our GUIs are developed with Qt anyways, we did take a look at libpoppler (and its Qt 5 bindings), which is the base of Okular, too.
  • KBibTeX 0.6.1-rc2 released
    After quite some delay, I finally assembled a second release candidate for KBibTeX 0.6.1. Version 0.6.1 will be the last release in the 0.6.x series.
  • Meet KDE at FOSDEM Next Month
    Next month is FOSDEM, the largest gathering of free software developers anywhere in Europe. FOSDEM 2017 is being held at the ULB Campus Solbosch on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th of February. Thousands of coders, designers, maintainers and managers from projects as popular as Linux and as obscure as Tcl/Tk will descend on the European capital Brussels to talk, present, show off and drink beer.

Leftovers: OSS

  • D-Wave Unveils Open-Source Software for Quantum Computing
    Canada-based D-Wave Systems has released an open-source software tool designed to help developers program quantum computers, Wired reported Wednesday.
  • D-Wave builds open quantum computing software development ecosystem
    D-Wave Systems has released an open source quantum computing chunk of software. Quantum computing, as we know, moves us on from the world of mere 1’s and 0’s in binary to the new level of ‘superposition’ qubits that can represent many more values and therefore more computing power — read this accessible piece for a simple explanation of quantum computing.
  • FOSS Compositing With Natron
    Anyone who likes to work with graphics will at one time or another find compositing software useful. Luckily, FOSS has several of the best in Blender and Natron.
  • Hadoop Creator Doug Cutting: 5 Ways to Be Successful with Open Source in 2017
    Because of my long-standing association with the Apache Software Foundation, I’m often asked the question, “What’s next for open source technology?” My typical response is variations of “I don’t know” to “the possibilities are endless.” Over the past year, we’ve seen open source technology make strong inroads into the mainstream of enterprise technology. Who would have thought that my work on Hadoop ten years ago would impact so many industries – from manufacturing to telecom to finance. They have all taken hold of the powers of the open source ecosystem not only to improve the customer experience, become more innovative and grow the bottom line, but also to support work toward the greater good of society through genomic research, precision medicine and programs to stop human trafficking, as just a few examples. Below I’ve listed five tips for folks who are curious about how to begin working with open source and what to expect from the ever-changing ecosystem.
  • Radio Free HPC Looks at New Open Source Software for Quantum Computing
    In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at D-Wave’s new open source software for quantum computing. The software is available on github along with a whitepaper written by Cray Research alums Mike Booth and Steve Reinhardt.
  • Why events matter and how to do them right
    Marina Paych was a newcomer to open source software when she left a non-governmental organization for a new start in the IT sector—on her birthday, no less. But the real surprise turned out to be open source. Fast forward two years and this head of organizational development runs an entire department, complete with a promotional staff that strategically markets her employer's open source web development services on a worldwide scale.
  • Exploring OpenStack's Trove DBaaS Cloud Servic
    You can install databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, or even MongoDB very quickly thanks to package management, but the installation is not even half the battle. A functioning database also needs user accounts and several configuration steps for better performance and security. This need for additional configuration poses challenges in cloud environments. You can always manually install a virtual machine in traditional settings, but cloud users want to generate an entire virtual environment from a template. Manual intervention is difficult or sometimes even impossible.
  • Mobile Edge Computing Creates ‘Tiny Data Centers’ at the Edge
    “Usually access networks include all kinds of encryption and tunneling protocols,” says Fite. “It’s not a standard, native-IP environment.” Saguna’s platform creates a bridge between the access network to a small OpenStack cloud, which works in a standard IP environment. It provides APIs about such things as location, registration for services, traffic direction, radio network services, and available bandwidth.

Leftovers: Ubuntu and Debian

  • Debian Creeps Closer To The Next Release
    I’ve been alarmed by the slow progress of Debian towards the next release. They’ve had several weird gyrations in numbers of “release-critical” bugs and still many packages fail to build from source. Last time this stage, they had only a few hundred bugs to go. Now they are over 600. I guess some of that comes from increasing the number of included packages. There are bound to be more bad interactions, like changing the C compiler. I hate that language which seems to be a moving target… Systemd seems to be smoother but it still gives me problems.
  • Mir: 2016 end of year review
    2016 was a good year for Mir – it is being used in more places, it has more and better upstream support and it is easier to use by downstream projects. 2017 will be even better and will see version 1.0 released.
  • Ubuntu Still Planning For Mir 1.0 In 2017
    Alan Griffiths of Canonical today posted a year-in-review for Mir during 2016 and a look ahead to this year.
  • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” KDE – BETA Release

GNU Gimp Development

  • Community-supported development of GEGL now live
    Almost every new major feature people have been asking us for, be it high bit depth support, or full CMYK support, or layer effects, would be impossible without having a robust, capable image processing core. Øyvind Kolås picked up GEGL in mid-2000s and has been working on it in his spare time ever since. He is the author of 42% of commits in GEGL and 50% of commits in babl (pixel data conversion library).
  • 2016 in review
    When we released GIMP 2.9.2 in late 2015 and stepped over into 2016, we already knew that we’d be doing mostly polishing. This turned out to be true to a larger extent, and most of the work we did was under-the-hood changes. But quite a few new features slipped in. So, what are the big user-visible changes for GIMP in 2016?