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Re: [vox] Open Source and Security
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Re: [vox] Open Source and Security

on Mon, Mar 01, 2004 at 12:27:40PM -0800, Bill Kendrick (nbs@sonic.net) wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 01, 2004 at 12:10:39PM -0800, Byron Roberts wrote:
> >  I feel like I'm totally missing something here....I thought that
> > one of the big advantages of OSS was increased security, precisely
> > because the code is accessible and able to be modified?  Or as a
> > newbie is there some piece of information that I'm lacking?


> With closed-source, the barrier is immediate.  Example:
>   "Hey Fred, OpenOffice.org seems to have a problem doing such-n-such"
>      "Well I can try to fix it.  [pay me / I'm happy to help for free / etc.]"
> Versus:
>   "Hey Fred, Microsoft Office seems to have a problem doing such-n-such"
>      "That sucks.  I hope they fix it and provide an update some day..."
> In the first case, we assume Fred is interesting in helping, either for
> compensation or not.  In the second case, it doesn't matter.  Nothing
> you or Fred can do about it (except wait and hope).

This leaves off another option, highlighted by Thomas C. Greene in The
Register last week:  free software is modular.  Drop-in replacements
tend to be readily facilitated:

  "Fred, fizwutz has a security hole, and there's no fix, this is the
  ninth one this month."

  "Hrm.  Well, rutzwiz is a drop-in replacement with a far better
  security record, we can just tear out fizwutz and replace it.  I'll
  prototype it this afternoon, we should be able to convert by
  (tomorrow|next week|next month)" (Depending on site size).


  "MS (Exchange|IE|SQL Server|Outlook|Word|Access|Palladium) has another
  critical buffer overflow."

  "We can't replace it without replacing everything...."

Note thta in the case of "fizwitz", we could be talking an application
(vim vs. nvi), a server (exim vs. postfix vs. smail), a library, a
protocoll (ftp vs. fish), or even an entire distro/OS/arch (Red Hat vs.
Debian vs. FreeBSD vs. OpenBSD vs.  x86 vs. hppa....)

Choice.  Flexibility.  Modularity.  Security.

Tom's article:

    Does open source software enhance security?
    By Thomas C Greene in Washington
    Posted: 05/03/2004 at 10:11 GMT


    Analysis There are several reasons why open-source software provides
    for superior computer and network security, but the computing public
    seems confused about why this is so.



Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Art is long and life is short.

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