Anmol Narula had emailed me in April, asking if I would consider switching the FreeDOS Distribution from using bwBASIC to using UBasic. My answer is simply no. Here are my reasons:
Anmol had written:
http://www.simtel.net/pub/msdos/ubasic/ You can make out how important even simtel thinks ubasic to be as it has dedicated a separate directory to it. Separate from the other normal basic directory.
I had asked Anmol if he could provide me with a copy of the software license. He wrote:
I don't have copy of the licence but this is what the readme file that comes along says:
UBASIC for IBM-PC version 8.8c
1. UBASIC is a BASIC interpreter with multiprecision arithmetic. It can run on DOS or DOS window of Win95 and WinNT.
2. UB*.EXE and UBCONST7.DAT are the minimal set of files to run.
3. UBASIC is a free software.
4. UBASIC is freely distributable.
5. UBASIC is written by Yuji KIDA at Rikkyo University in Japan. You can contact the author via e-mail(firstname.lastname@example.org).
NOTE: This list was created on Sun Jan 14 23:07:16 EST 2001 Some files may have been added or deleted since that date. See file /simtelnet/msdos/00_info/upload.txt for uploading information.
NOTE: Type B is Binary; Type A is ASCIIDirectory simtelnet/msdos/ubasic/ Filename Type Length Date Description ============================================== 00readme.txt A 422 980625 Information about files in this directory haber.zip B 31202 970801 UBasic tutorial by Seymour Haber ppmpx33e.zip B 67819 970801 UBasic integer factorization on DOS-window ub16i88c.zip B 107888 980625 UBasic main program for 16bit machine ub32i88c.zip B 108365 980625 UBasic main program for 32bit machine ubc88c.zip B 106649 980625 UBasic main program for CGA ubgraph.zip B 82706 970801 UBasic graphic applications ubhelp.zip B 58397 970801 UBasic help files ubiapl96.zip B 124948 970801 UBasic applications to 1996 ubmalm.zip B 34355 970801 UBasic number theory programs by D.Malm ---
in the harber.zip file, I found the following:UBASIC is freeware, through the generosity of its original developer Professor Yuji Kida and of others who have contributed to it. It is usually distributed as a compressed file - e.g. UBIBM884.ZIP - accompanied by the decompression utility UNZIP.EXE (or PKUNZIP.EXE) and auxiliary files. UBASIC is constantly under development - removing bugs, adding features. Users of FTP may obtain the latest version from rkmath.rikkyo.ac.jp , where it is in the directory /ubibm. (As of the time of this writing the files, there, that are absolutely necessary for running UBASIC are ubibm884.zip, ubhelp.zip, ubiapl94.zip and of course unzip.exe.)
Anmol was so enthusiastic to win me over to using UBasic instead of bwBASIC that he went so far as to contact the author. Anmol wrote this to the author, to confirm the license:
I am hoping to get some info regarding the license details of ubasic. As far as I understand the licence says free for personal as well as commercial use. Is that correct.
The author wrote back with confirmation:
Yes, you are right
So, Anmol has endeavored to prove that there is no cost associated with using UBasic. However, FreeDOS is about freedom, not cost. UBasic does not make the source code available; bwBASIC does. It is the availability of source code that makes bwBASIC preferable, not the price.
bwBASIC seems to be a very competent BASIC environment. I have written several programs that run under bwBASIC, and bwBASIC seems to run just like any other BASIC environment. I would compare it more closely to Microsoft's QBasic than GW-BASIC.
Since bwBASIC works as advertised, and is a competent BASIC environment, and (most importantly) is available with source code, I will continue to prefer bwBASIC over UBasic.