Linux felon forced to install Windows

Linux enthusiast convicted of illegal file sharing balks at probation terms demanding he install Windows if he wants to use a PC.

A Linux user who was jailed for uploading a film onto a peer-to-peer service has been told he will have to switch to Windows if he wants to use a computer again.

Scott McCausland, who used to be an administrator of the EliteTorrents BitTorrent server before it was shut down by the FBI, pleaded guilty in 2006 to two copyright-related charges over the uploading of Star Wars: Episode III to the Internet. As a result, he was sentenced to five months in jail and five months' home confinement.

McCausland--who also goes by the name "sk0t"--has since been released from jail, but on Tuesday he reported on his blog that the terms of his sentence meant he would have to install Windows if he wanted to use a computer during his probation. "I had a meeting with my probation officer today, and he told me that he has to install monitoring software onto my PC," wrote McCausland. "No big deal to me...that is part of my sentence."

"However, their software doesn't support GNU/Linux (which is what I use)," continued McCausland. "So, he told me that if I want to use a computer, I would have to use an OS that the software can be installed on. Which basically means: Microsoft and monitoring software or no computer. I use Ubuntu 7.04 now, and they are trying to force me to switch. First they give me two felonies, then they throw me in prison, and now this."

According to the Web site TorrentFreak, McCausland and his attorney will fight the situation. "It isn't the fact that I have to be monitored that bothers me, it is the fact that I have (to) restructure my life (different OS, different software on that OS) and that they would require (force) me to purchase software while I am currently unemployed and relatively unemployable with the two felonies that they gave me," McCausland said. "It is just a ridiculous situation."

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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