Proprietary software is bad for the environment

15 April 2020

Random thought I had this afternoon while I was standing in my SysAdmin's office (my old office). He was at his desk (my old desk) and I was out front. There was a box on the floor with some old equipment that was dropped off to us.

Lately, my legs, (quads and hams) have been tight from all the sitting around, so I put my leg up on the box and started stretching briefly. As I was doing that, I was staring down at the pile of old servers on the floor under a table.

My thought was (and I know I'm not the first to think it, or take action on it) that proprietary software is bad for the environment.

I said that out loud and my SysAdmin was confused and just replied "no, it's not!?" He said it as a statement/puzzelment question as if to wonder why I said that.

The reason is that one of the servers, an old NEXSAN, has proprietary software and firmware that locks the use of all the hard drives you put in it to licensing restrictions. When I had that running, there was physically 11 TB's of hard drive storage in it. Yet, because I didn't have enough licensing for it all, I was only allowed to use 9 TB of it. For another $2,000 per year, I could use the other 2 TB.

That really pissed me off for a long time and we eventually converted over to FreeNAS, open-source software with no restrictions.

But the thought of the day is that, we can take the hard drives out of the NEXSAN and use them elsewhere, and we will at some point, but the giant chassis and the electronics inside are totally useless without their licensing.

So how is that bad for the environment? Well, that means that all the metal and silicon will end up in a dump someplace because I can't re-purpose it for anything else. I may see about recycling it and hopefully there is some places locally that will take it.

But we all know, more often than not, this stuff ends up in dumps.

Proprietary software is bad for the environment