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Network Copy Protection Woes

Christopher P Courtright <[email protected]> writes:

Network copy protection (see TidBITS-234) has problems in large Mac shops such as ours. To simplify administration of the Macs in our organization, everyone has an identical software load (there are minor variations in system software). We created a master configuration and clone that software load from one machine to another to perform updates, patches, upgrades, etc. Each machine has two volumes, one for application software and one for user data. If the volume with the application software takes a hit ("Whaddya mean I deleted my PageMaker?") we can quickly reclone the drive. We don’t have to back it up. We can even swap out the drive if it fails. Only the stuff we cannot recreate (i.e. user data) is backed up.

This brings us to the problem with serial number detection copy protection schemes. How can I make identical machines not be identical? One way is to negotiate with the vendor a non-copy protected version of the software. We have found that this is usually available (i.e. Aldus products) [We’ve heard of instances when negotiating for a non-protected version means a long wait even after a new release, since custom versions require additional testing -Adam]. Or, we must find the serial number embedded in the software on the machines and zap the different numbers on each computer. Deployed over a large number of computers, this is a nightmare to administer.

Although we use White Pine’s products, if others are available that compete feature for feature, but do not cause administrative overhead, I would be tempted to switch to those products. Software piracy is a valid concern of a business, however vendors must realize that they need to build in administrative features that do not hinder the products’ deployment in large corporate environments.

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