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How Free Software is Distributed

Jun 27, 2008
Downloading software has always been a common online activity, but whereas movies, music, and games are only downloaded by those genuinely interested in them, everybody needs to have software installed on their computer for it to work properly.

As with games, the majority of software obtained through file sharing will be cracked, meaning that its copy protection has been disabled allowing you to you to burn it to disk or install it straight from your hard drive. Cracked software (Warez) can be produced by a good cracking team in just a few hours, using both 'off the shelf' and custom-written debugging tools.

Any further security measures can also be bypassed, which may require the inclusion of a copied serial number or a keygen. To help you out, the groups will usually include a text or .nfo file (readme file) with the download. This will usually include installation instructions and details regarding the software.


A keygen (key generator) is a program that produces a serial number, also known as a registration code or key, for a particular piece of software. They work by replicating the algorithm applied to the original serial number, which is used to activate the software, or remove functional or time restrictions.

The problem with keygens, as with any security bypassing technique, is that they are sometimes ineffective when the software is required to connect to its developer's servers for the latest updates etc.

Possible reasons include:

A: The server will only accept keys that it knows were distributed with the software during production.

B: A second algorithm that is only known to the developer is used to verify the serial number. This second algorithm will contain an additional set of rules, disqualifying any key that contains certain characters.

C: The serial number is already registered on the server, either by a legitimate user or someone whose keygen produced the same key.

Is downloading software encouraged?

Historically the security measures put in place on software applications have never been regarded as being difficult to bypass, and this is no accident. It's well known that software developers would prefer you to use a cracked copy of their software rather than buy somebody else's, hoping to earn your loyalty and make a sale in the future.

It has even been reported that software developers sometimes produce their own cracked software for free distribution, to help market their name. In any case, they're not worried about private individuals copying or downloading software when the majority of their business is generated through company licensing agreements.

The industry has suggested that downloading software that has been copied reduces the profits that pay for further growth and development. But with all the resources that the big software firms have, is it really so difficult for them to create something that, if not impossible to copy, would take so long that it wouldn't be worth the effort?
About the Author
Jon Mills has created the TotalDownloader website which provides information on downloading techniques, increasing your speeds, maintaining anonymity, and much more. So get started now with your free 6 part course at TotalDownloader.com
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