If The BSA Is So Sure Companies Would Pay For Software, Why Did It Use Free Webserver Software?

from the well,-look-at-that dept

We recently did our latest debunking of the BSA’s latest laughable report on “piracy” of software and its impact on the economy and jobs. We have to do this every few months, as the BSA continues to trot out the same laughable and debunked analysis, including the flat-out ridiculous idea that every unauthorized copy is a $1 for $1 lost sale. A few years ago, when a BSA VP and IDC VP called me up to defend the report, they insisted that “their research” showed the $1 to $1 ratio was pretty accurate, insisting that companies who need software really want proprietary software, and that open source or other alternatives generally aren’t what they’re looking for.

Of course, most people know better than this, but a recent Matt Asay column highlights how more and more of the world moves to open source and cloud-based solutions could seriously change that equation. In it, there’s a lovely tidbit about how much the BSA itself doesn’t seem to believe its own claims about open source software — or, even that good software is worth paying a license for:

Ironically, the BSA has discovered one of the few ways to “pirate” open-source software, and is apparently an advocate. The BSA’s website apparently runs on Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone CentOS. Surely a license-respecting organization like the BSA would want to pay full freight for a RHEL license rather than undermine Red Hat by choosing CentOS? Evidently not.

Yes, so even in a case where the BSA itself can pay for a nice open source license, it chose to go with a free version instead. This is, of course, perfectly legal. But it seems pretty ridiculous that the BSA would claim that others wouldn’t do what it seems to have done. That said, as you look into the details, it appears that the main BSA site does, in fact, run on Microsoft IIS (I’m sure with a nice license from BSA favorite member, Microsoft). The site that was claimed to be on CentOS was a separate “educational” (and I use that term loosely) site called b4usurf.org (gotta love the attempt to sound relevant using txt-spk). Oddly, I can’t find any info on what that site now runs on Netcraft. Anyone have a better way of figuring this out?

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Companies: bsa

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Comments on “If The BSA Is So Sure Companies Would Pay For Software, Why Did It Use Free Webserver Software?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If it is CentOS (and thus has everything from RHEL), it probably has backported fixes for all these vulnerabilities (RedHat prefers to backport the fixes instead of upgrading to a newer release). The version number becomes meaningless for vulnerabilities, unless you know the full package version number (2.0.52-1, 2.0.52-2, …).

Jose_X (profile) says:

not an open book

People can run whatever they want inside their network, and, unless you exploit an unintentional opening, there is no way for you to know.

And even the public facing servers (or proxies) can spit out whatever string info it wants (though there might be other ways to guess better at the server type.. keeping in mind it could be a custom brew very difficult to identify).

Anonymous Coward says:

According to nmap, it’s some kind of CentOS. They also have a public facing MySQL, which is weird. Anyway, this seems to be hosted at a public hosting service, so I don’t think they actually built the site. What’s very, very weird is that the site and the host are registered from Singapore. So apparently BSA doesn’t care to provide work to americans either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Cute! They don’t even have the class to get the low-cost Red Hat Enterprise version with awesome support. Guess they don’t need the support. But in defense of CentOS 5, we run it on a dozen production servers here simply because it works so damn well. I wouldn’t change it if you paid me. What you forgot to ask is if BSA pays for support on CentOS?

Anonymous Coward says:

Just installed a new Dell with Windows Server package as an Internet and broadcasting server and it ran about $6,000 USD. It’s too bad a lot of companies are locked into being MicroSoft houses and are the ones that are picking up the slack (sadly) for MicroSoft’s sinking revenues. What used to be called the IBM money pit is now the MicroSoft money pit. The one thing to be thankful for is now that Intel has reached the 4GHZ limit on CPU speed machines are no longer becoming obsolete in 2 weeks. We finally have 64 bit OS’s and the slow Motorola Apple crap is now powering phones and pads where it belongs. We might actually begin to count on our hardware for longer than a day. Wondrous times ahead!!

Jamie (profile) says:

Fingerprinting web servers

Mike –

You asked how to check the web server/OS brand. Keeping in mind, of course, that software can easily be made to lie, do this from a command prompt:

telnet b4surf.org 80

It will tell you about an escape character, and let you type things. Now, type this:


Followed by two(2) carriage returns. Most of the time, you’ll see something like this:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010 15:29:05 GMT
Server: Apache/2.0.52 (CentOS)
Last-Modified: Mon, 03 Apr 2006 05:47:11 GMT
ETag: “8d47e5-509-526435c0”
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 1289
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html

That “Server” header is the one you’re interested in.

Again, web servers, mail servers, etc. can, and do, lie about what they are. You can get a more reliable idea of operating systems, sometimes, by learning to use nmap, and I’ll leave that explanation to an nmap tutorial you can easily find online if you want to spend time on it.

AMusingFool (profile) says:

full nmap output

Just for giggles:

~ (890) nmap -A b4usurf.org

Starting Nmap 5.00 ( http://nmap.org ) at 2010-09-30 16:01 EDT
Interesting ports on mercury25.networknoc.com (
Not shown: 990 filtered ports
21/tcp open ftp ProFTPD 1.3.0
53/tcp open domain ISC BIND 9.2.4
80/tcp open http Apache httpd 2.0.52 ((CentOS))
| robots.txt: has 8 disallowed entries
| /admin/ /contrib/ /doc/ /lib/ /modules/ /plugins/
|_ /scripts/ /tmp/
|_ html-title: B4USurf – Home
110/tcp open pop3 Courier pop3d
143/tcp open imap Courier Imapd (released 2004)
443/tcp open ssl/http Apache httpd 2.0.52 ((CentOS))
|_ sslv2: server still supports SSLv2
|_ html-title: Default PLESK Page
554/tcp open rtsp?
3306/tcp open mysql MySQL 4.1.22
| mysql-info: Protocol: 10
| Version: 4.1.22
| Thread ID: 992302
| Some Capabilities: Connect with DB, Compress, Transactions, Secure Connection
| Status: Autocommit
|_ Salt: uuj4`ipu{,b.[`OKl]l+
7070/tcp open realserver?
8443/tcp open http Apache httpd 1.3.33 ((Unix) mod_ssl/2.8.22 OpenSSL/0.9.7e PHP/5.0.5)
| html-title: 302 Found
|_ Did not follow redirect to https://mercury30.networknoc.com:8443
Service Info: Host: localhost.localdomain; OS: Unix

Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at http://nmap.org/submit/ .
Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 148.67 seconds

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