UBasic - not a free alternative

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.

-Anmol Narula

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(kida@rkmath.rikkyo.ac.jp).

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 ASCII

 Directory 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.
 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:

Dear Anmol
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.