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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved



Any Old Ware

In a world dominated by Windows and Linux the general computing public understand only two types of license: Open and Closed source. However, this is only scratching the surface. There are several lesser known types that dominate the non-commercial computing market. In this short analysis, Gareth Knight describes several license types that are common on the Amiga.

Commercial software is considered to be higher quality - a misconception in many cases. It is better described as software that is distributed professionally by individuals other that the author.

Public Domain

Many PD programs are considered to be in the public domain. In a traditional sense, PD requires the author to forfeit all copyright on the work and place it in the public domain for anyone to use. The computer PD variety is more confusing, being used as an umbrella term to describe several types of distribution methods:


Freeware is the most common variety of licensing. For years the Amiga led the market, producing hundreds of freeware titles. Its effect upon the early computer market can be compared to the current buzz surrounding open source licenses. Several monthly magazines dedicated to the subject were launched during the early 1990s, covering Amiga, Atari ST, and DOS freeware. If an application has been designated freeware, the author has allowed the software to be freely copiable, but retains all copyright. In many cases the author will request some sign of appreciation, such as a bottle of wine or a new Amiga (hint hint). However, a letter of appreciation or a contribution will also suffice.


Trailing behind freeware is shareware. Shareware authors request that users' send a specified amount of money. Some authors force this upon their users by disabling certain features, such as the number of levels in a game or the number of records you can have in a database. Other shareware authors rely upon the user's conscious to register their software, promising continued development for the computer. In return for registering, many users' receive updated versions of the application or take part in beta testing.


Less common than freeware. Many of the large Amiga licenceware distributors have closed or sold their contents during the last few years. Licenceware is associated with high-quality applications/games that compete with commercial-level applications. Many authors choose licenceware as a distribution method due to the low-cost for customers. Under Licenceware, the application cannot be freely copied and a certain amount of the cost will go directly to the author.

Other forms of ware that do not fit into other categories

The author would appreciate a gift of some kind, such as a spoon or other non-descript item.

The author would like you to contribute to a certain charity of their, or your choice.

Cardware is simply the authors desire to be sent a postcard from the users hometown (preferably with a pretty picture).


One forgotten Amiga utility claimed to be underware, requesting that the user send an item of undergarment. Other varieties include beerware, where the user sends a casket of their favourite beer through the post.

Linux, GNU, and the GPL

The software is released under the GNU (GNU's not Unix) public license. This means that it must be distributed in full, including source code. These cannot be used for commercial gain.

This subject is more complex. For a more detailed description of GPL and other licenses take a look at the GNU page dedicated to the subject.


Last Update: 23/02/2002



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