This Blog Has Moved!

My blog has moved. Check out my new blog at

Your Ad Here

Friday, June 24, 2011

Expensive Software

My employer has a policy of "No free software!" Some overpaid consultant probably told them that.

My coworkers were using freetds. They got caught and freetds was banned.

They decided to buy a proprietary ODBC library. I'm evaluating it. My conclusions are "It sucks!".

The installer was a POS. After confusing error messages and analyzing the install script, I figured out I was installing the wrong version.

I don't have root on the Linux server. That makes it very hard to install and configure things. I installed it as a user in a common directory.

The ODBC library was distributed in binary form, and not source. The ODBC library linked to an older version of the standard library, as a static link. This led to a link conflict when I ran gcc. I tried "-nostandardlib" or "-nodefaultlib", but I couldn't get it to link properly.

Their "sample code" has database names and tables hardcoded. I can't use their test code without recompiling.

I didn't try calling customer support for the driver. They probably would refuse to help, because I'm installing it without root. Based on my experience, customer support is usually useless.

I couldn't get it to work. That was amusing. Due to corporate policy, my coworkers aren't allowed to use freetds, because it's open source. The proprietary ODBC driver was a horrible POS. The only reason anyone would use that driver, is if a corporate policy forbade the use of freetds.

The proprietary software was *MUCH* more expensive than the free software. You have to include the cost of installing and setup. Freetds was much easier to setup and use. If that ODBC driver doesn't work at all, it's infinite-percent more expensive.


Anonymous said...

I once worked for a company that had silly management. Eventually the parent company closed the company down.

The company also had a policy of no free software, but were too slow to actually buy a C/C++ compiler for SunOS (well actually it was so long ago I can't quite remember what Unix variant it was).

So there was a whole team without a C/C++ compiler.

The team leader (not a manager) made a decision himself to install and use GNU C/C++. He and his team started to write code with it.

Eventually the company purchased a proprietary C/C++ compiler. The C++ code refused to compile with the new compiler.

The team leader had a nasty time rewriting the code to work!

The management must have been idiots. The team leader had to break a company rule, otherwise a whole team of people would have been stuck DOING NO WORK FOR MONTHS.

Anonymous said...

A very long time ago I worked for a start-up company funded by venture capital.

The director of software refused to buy a component used by the software the company produced. I was not part of this project and worked on something entirely separate. I was told by others that the company didn't have a license for it.

Anyway eventually there was a problem at work to do with two employees being sent on a wild goose chase abroad and the director was banned from entering the company's offices. I guess that is some intermediary step towards firing.

Anyway this director came back to the offices and boasted to all of us about his new job.

After this guy left the company he reported the company for software piracy and the company got landed with a 60, 000 UK pounds fine.

Nice! He pirates software, gets effectively fired and then reports the company for stealing the software he stole! What a clown!

Now unfortunately 60, 000 UK pounds at the time would pay for the salary of 2 - 3 low paid employees (i.e. workers that were hired to do work, rather than just being hired for being a friend).

Myself and two other technical people in the company were fired a few months or so later.

We get chucked on the scrap heap, the company screws us out of our share options (as the company was sold behind our backs after we left) and the director that lost the company 60, 000 UK pounds ends up in clover with a nice, new job earning lots of money.

Hardware Guy said...

Hm, OK, I will contribute mine as well. A company I used to work for refused to buy board layout software. The program they used was a 10 year old beta release of some more modern software which costed $1000. The beta release had severe errors, which meant that any boards laid out on it would have signals shorted to the ground plane and other catastrophic problems. Therefore every board that was produced resulted in buying a small lot of boards for $10,000 or so, finding they didn't work, diagnosing the problems because of the known broken layout software, then pay illegal immigrants $8 an hour for 3 hrs per board to fix the signal traces with xacto knives and dozens of little jumper cables. The boards would then be fragile and susceptible to field failure. 1000 boards made this way would require $24,000 in labor to get working after diagnoses. Each year we had 2-4 hardware products. Each year more and more boards failed in the field. The hardware engineers constantly complained about the critical need to actually buy the $1000 board layout software. The answer was always that it was too expensive. Older guys told the younger ones to stop asking management about this, this was just the way things were. Eventually we did finally get that new software a couple months before the company went bankrupt and after a decade of manufacturing flawed boards.

Hardware Guy said...

I forgot to mention, the owner of the company had grown up poor on a farm where the idea was that it was a waste of money and morally wrong to spend money on something you could do yourself. So if you needed to replace a blown gasket on the tractor, rather than waste $5 buying a new one, you would remove the old one and cut a piece of leather (that you butchered and tanned yourself) to fit.

So the idea here was that the layout software did work good enough, after all we were shipping products weren't we? Having a make-do set up requiring ad hoc hand fixes to each board was better than doing it right the first time because it reminded the owner of his wasted inefficient childhood on a farm. To criticize this method was to reject hard work, Puritanism in general, and his hard working country parents God rest their souls in heaven.

Free Software said...

Well it is my good luck in real, as I was searching something else on internet and I am here to your blog by chance and I must say it is a good site buddy.

This Blog Has Moved!

My blog has moved. Check out my new blog at