I like D-Star. I have found it very useful for some of my amateur radio work. The biggest argument I hear about D-Star is that it is proprietary. The codec is locked down so nobody can use it. The chips can’t be obtained. The radios cant be worked on and they are over priced.
I Find this hilarious. Let us stop for a moment and consider these arguments. The majority of amateur radio operators use Windows or Mac. The cellphones they carry run Windows or a software specific to their device. Their router, TV, and printer all run on proprietary software. The media player you listen to our podcast on is most probably an Ipod or a Zune. they use proprietary software.
The programs you run and files you use are not free of this issue. By definition:
“Proprietary software is computer software licensed under exclusive legal right of the copyright holder. The licensee is given the right to use the software under certain conditions, but restricted from other uses, such as modification, further distribution, or reverse engineering.”
So things like MP3 files, Itunes, Ham Radio Deluxe, and a whole lot more are proprietary. If you are using a cell phone that uses anything other than Android it is running proprietary software. Look at the EULA and / or the license on any piece of software you use. If it doesn’t use one of a free licenses like the GPL or there are restriction on its use it is proprietary. Part of the argument is that the D-Star Hardware is proprietary. Well, by definition no. But up until the 1980’s computers were proprietary. Proprietary has never really stopped us amateur radio operators from using something. The best example I can think of is Pactor. Pactor came along in the 1990’s. The manufacturers of all mode TNC’s were trying to get it into their equipment as quickly as possible. There were folks out there trying to write software to run Pactor on soundcards and Pactor was the new fantastic digital mode for HF. Well Pactor was good but lets make it better. Pactor II was developed and the developer immediately locked down the code. Then they improved it again. Enter Pactor III. It was also locked down. Now the only place you can get a Pactor II or III is a company in Germany and the least expensive modem is around a thousand dollars U. S. Hams love proprietary. That is why the Winlink 2000 system has an HF backbone that runs on the STS PTC proprietary modem.
So when the best argument against D-Star is that it is proprietary I giggle like a school girl. If that is your issue run one of the free and open operating systems on your Mac or PC. Run Rockbox on your Ipod or Zune. Get an Android phone. Load some open source software on your router or game console. Until then proprietary is not an issue for you.
Price would be a better argument but everything is more expensive when it is introduced. The price comes down with time. Look at Blu-Ray. When I was a teenager a videotape of a movie was a hundred dollars. When PC’s were introduced you couldn’t touch one with an 8088 processor for less than a thousand. So the price argument won’t work either. If you can’t afford it just say that you don’t have D-Star because you can’t afford it. I don’t have a Pactor modem because I can’t afford it.
Fear is the more likely argument. People were afraid of SSB on HF. They were afraid of FM on VHF. Some were afraid of Morse code so they wouldn’t get their license. Fear. It is natural to be afraid of new things. You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t. My father is afraid of new things. That is why most of the things he does on his computer take him all day when I can have them done quickly with little fuss. He runs Windows on his machines. I run Linux on mine. It takes him 10 minutes to boot his machine. It takes me 45 seconds to boot mine. The only reason he hasn’t switch is because he is afraid of new things. Not because he can’t do what he needs to do in Linux. So if your afraid of D-Star that’s OK but don’t use proprietary as an excuse.