Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

CS2 Flies In From Adobe’s Left Field

Colds are like…well, you know what colds are like. Right now, everybody has one. I’ve been climbing out of this one now for about six days, and the top is not yet in sight. At least my flu shot worked, or I could have been in lots worse shape. If I’ve been quiet, that’s most of it.

But something remarkable happened yesterday that still has a lot of people scratching their heads. Michael Covington and several other people alerted me to the fact that Adobe had opened a download link to an installable instance of Creative Suite 2 that didn’t require activation. Rumors were thronging like Illinois mosquitoes that Adobe was just turning it loose. This is outside of type for them, let’s say.

The truth is subtler: Adobe is shutting off CS2’s activation servers, and once it does, people who have legitimate licenses to CS2 will not be able to reinstall it after a hard disk crash or whatever. So they’re providing an activation-free instance to those customers.

Why, then, did they put the download links to the installer files right out where anyone could see them? The links have been live for several days and were still live this morning, though the server has been choked here and there by activity that suggests more than just CS2 atavists clicking on the links. One would expect at very least a requirement for users to log into their Adobe accounts to get the install suite, but not so. Any code monkey could suggest four or five other ways to do it that would not present all of CS2 on a platter to the whole world.

Adobe insists that they’re not giving CS2 to everybody. So what’s really going on here? I’ll hazard a guess: They’re afraid of the Gimp, and to a lesser extent, Scribus. I think they’ve been afraid of both programs (and a scattering of others) for a long time. At some point, a bean counter probably did some spreadsheeting and realized that activation support on a long-tail product isn’t worth what it costs, and told the techies to shut it off and send the phone reps home.

Faced with that decision, somebody there may have gotten clever enough to realize that people were leaving the CS plantation for cheaper realms. The Gimp is good enough for most Photoshoppish work, according to people I respect, and if I didn’t already own InDesign 2.0, I’d probably be laying out books in Scribus. I think Adobe may be quietly trying to get more people hooked on the CS product, which is a huge revenue-generator for them. Photoshop is probably the most pirated non-OS in software history, and I wonder if they’re just making CS2 easier to pirate and looking the other way to pull a little pressure off CS6, while allowing the curious to give Creative Suite a go. There are legal reasons why they won’t admit to a strategy like that. Furthermore, as many have said, never attribute to cleverness what is better explained by incompetence. It may just be a booboo. If it is, it’s one of the longest-lived booboos of its sort I’ve ever seen.

I won’t post the link here, out of respect for Adobe’s copyrights. Trust me, you won’t have to flatten your nose to find it. I have only one more point to make: I’d like to buy that software. Yes indeed: Adobe, I’ll give you money! I won’t pay several grand for CS6. But I’ll pay a couple hundred for CS2. Alas, the product is not for sale. So what could be a revenue generator for Adobe is just another gift to the pirates, with people like me who’d like to remain legal looking on enviously.

I respect their copyrights. But still. Dumbasses!


  1. Heh. Scribus 1.4.1 package in Raspbian. Seems to be responsive. 🙂

    Also, while I never managed to do anything useful with Gimp, and it lacks several features I’m very much addicted to (notably adjustment layers and layer styling) I’ve had pretty good results with Photoline 32. Which is less than 100 bucks.

    So let’s see, I can replace photoshop,with PL32, I can replace indesign with scribus (thanks!). Is there a replacement for indesign? (I’ve never had a use for indesign, but friends of mine on a much tighter budget do.)


    1. Recent InDesign versions (CS5 & 6, I think) have ebook features that I’d like but don’t desperately need given what else I have here. Scribus has no ebook-related features and I’m not sure how well it measures up to InDesign CS6, but InDesign 2.0 serves me well, even at ten years old.

      The notion of laying out books on an RPi is…interesting. And worth a shot, egad.

  2. Gah. Not indesign. Illustrator.

    1. I’ve fooled a little with Illustrator, but as I’m a words guy and not a pictures guy I’m not able to judge what could stand in for it.

  3. Alex Dillard says:

    Right, very surprising move for Adobe. I agree with the observation that it might be an accident. That it is an accident was my initial reaction when I found out about this yesterday. Autodesk has been doing a somewhat better job in the ‘give-your-software-to-kids-for-free-because-you-know-that-if-you-don’t-they’ll-get-it-anyway’ department. They provide current versions of their software for free to students and have been doing so for years.

    On the topic of being willing to pay for something a software company is unwilling to give: I’ve got an old AT&T 6300 PC (still works!) and would be more than will to give money to either Borland or Microsoft in exchange for a valid copy of a DOS C and/or Pascal compiler that can run on an 8086 based system. I’m sure there may be open source options that could work as well, I haven’t looked in to that yet. However, in ~1985 open source wasn’t really what it is now.

    It looks to me like the only option available to get a commercial 8086 compiler is to download a pirated copy off the internet, or spend a lot of money on eBay or EMS or similar for a physical copy which may or may not include floppies that are still readable. Am I missing something? Whether I am or not, if anyone has comments on obtaining a C and/or Pascal compiler that will run on an 8086 I would be interested. Perhaps it is easier than I am

    1. You may be missing precisely what you want. Look online for the Borland Museum, from which I think you can download Turbo Pascal 5.5 for DOS and Turbo C 2.0 for DOS, both of which I’m pretty sure will run on 8086/88 machines. See:

      Let me know if they work on that old 6300.

      1. Alex Dillard says:

        I’ll let you know once I get Turbo Pascal / Turbo C running on my 6300, although based on Tom R.’s comment below it should work. Could be a week or so before I try it, I have several bigger fish to fry first. Thanks for pointing out Embarcadero’s ‘Borland Museum’. That reminded me of Borland’s Turbo Explorer site [] (it’s an official Borland / Embarcadero site despite the rather generic URL). That page used to offer the 2006 versions of Borland’s compilers for free but Embarcadero has since removed those offerings in favor of limited-time trial versions of their current products.

    2. Alex Dillard says:

      … or rather: Perhaps it is easier than I am assuming.

      Jeff, I see you took care of my accidental duplicate comment. Sorry about that. I would have deleted it myself but I don’t think that is something I can do from my end.

      Also, apparently two of my hyperlinks don’t work in ether of my two attempts. Rather than fail a third time I’ll just list the links here the old fashioned way:

    3. Tom R. says:

      Jeff is right. I had (and still have) an AT&T 6300 that I used with Turbo Pascal versions up to 5.5. That was my first exposure to Pascal and since I skipped BASIC and my first language was ALGOL 60 it was like coming home again — of course that was after being corrupted by FORTRAN for some years in between.

  4. Tom Hanlin says:

    I… don’t really know what colds are like. Might be Florida. Might be me. But I haven’t had a cold in, err… I don’t know, it’s been a while?

    On the point of software, I must agree with you. I understand the vendor push to always buy the latest thing, buy buy go go, it’s a major revenue stream. But I think they’re being clueless by ignoring all the money they could make by dropping prices on their older inventory. It complicates things a little, of course, who wants to fix the bug in version 2.0 when the product is up to 7.9? …still.

    Oh, have you not checked out gcc? I am not clear on the licenses involved, but I think it’s (a) free and (b) an absurdly-well optimized C/C++ compiler.

    1. Erbo says:

      Was the mention of GCC a response to Alex’s question about 8086 compilers? If so, I’m pretty sure GCC is 32+-bit only. The only version of it I ever heard of that ran on DOS was DJGPP, and that used a DOS extender that required a 386 or better.

      However, Jeff’s link to the Borland Museum seems to be what Alex is looking for. I used TC 2.01 and TC++ 1.01 back in the day, and both of those are available.

      1. Oh, I use gcc semiregularly, mostly to recompile things for Linux, which in a lot of geek packages is part of the install process. I cover it on the assembly side to some degree in ASMSBS. I’m not a big fan of C itself, but gcc is a brilliant compiler.

        As Eric says, it’s unclear whether gcc will run in real mode without some sort of extender. However, the older Borland compilers will definitely run in real mode, and the ones in the Borland Museum would definitely be useful under DOS on ancient metal.

    2. Alex Dillard says:

      It’s interesting you point that out, I haven’t been sick with any sort of illness, cold or otherwise, since I moved to Florida in 2009. Prior to that I was generally ill in one way or another once or twice a year.

  5. Carrington Dixon says:

    Surely, down-level releases would at some point be sold only ‘as-is’. That is, if 7.9 is the latest and greatest, you can buy 2.0 dirt cheap, but if you find a bug you can’t live with, your only option is to buy a supported version (probably 7.x, maybe 6.x too).

    1. I do that now with several packages that I use almost every day, including Visio 2000. Having used it for twelve years, I think I’ve run into any bug that would be of concern to me. The same is true of Office 2000 and of course InDesign 2.0. Vendor support isn’t the issue it was when the technology was evolving furiously, as it was in the 80s and 90s.

  6. […] Adobe CS2 download link everybody’s talking about (see my entry for January 10, 2013) is still wide-open. If it was indeed a mistake, you’d think they would have fixed it by now. […]

  7. William Meyer says:

    Well, I suppose this is what is called a marketing strategy, and we’ve been well trained over the years by employees of BorPriseGearDero to understand that we do not understand such things. 😉

    Interesting, though, as there’s little in versions later than CS2 which I find compelling….

  8. […] have mostly stopped talking about the link page that Adobe exposed a few weeks ago, allowing the download of an activation-free copy of the entire Creative Suite 2. The page is still there, still wide open, and you no longer even have to sign in to your Adobe […]

  9. Neil in Chicago says:

    You may not be suspicious enough.
    Istm the switch to a subscription model is a major enhancement to user lock-in. You can’t get off the upgrade merry-go-round the way you can by just using the way more than you need anyway old release.
    Possibly the effectively-free CS2 is like giving kids cigarettes. I don’t know, but, again istm, it’s only reasonable to wonder what the strategic thinking was.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *