Re: Viva le Same! Linux

Subject: Re: Viva le Same! Linux
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2002 18:29:52 -0700

Andrew Plato wrote:

Second, without financial incentive, there will always be a limit to open-source
products. That limit will be the good graces of engineers who are willing to
donate their time. 99% of open source users never contribute a single thing to
the product. I don't know about you guys, but I generally limit how much "free
work" I do. Sure, I don't mind a little here and there, but overall, I still to
paying jobs.

This sounds like a valid argument, but it ignores a few facts. First, there are open source developers who get paid for their work. Second, the open source development model is not dependent on a single person doing all the work. Third, there are a lot of developers, and many show a surprising degreee of devotion about their open source. If their paid work is not open source, then they often put in a second shift on it when they come home.Sometimes, they do so out of altruism (if not outright, foamy-mouthed fanaticism), but at times, the motivation is simply self-interest; they want something that isn't available on Linux, so they write the program themselves (Admittedly, this leads to some odd gaps - for example, there isn't a decent GUI for installing postscript fonts, but there is a program for designing fonts that is as good as Fontographer).

To give a sense of the scope of the effort, it was calculated a few months ago that the amount of volunteer work put into the last release of the Debian distribution (which, like most distributions,includes not only the operating system, but also games and productivity software of every kind you can imagine) would have cost several billion dollars if it were paid for.

Clearly, work does get done in open source software - and very extensive work, too.

RedHat Linux is NOT open-source, free-ware, or any of the other "freewheeling,
patchouli scented group hug" products that people think. RedHat Linux is merely a
commercial OS **based**on the Linux kernel. RedHat has a lot of proprietary
development in RedHat Linux and they are not going to just hand it over.

Sorry, this is simply wrong. Red Hat Linux frequently ships with demos of proprietary software, but the operating system itself is open source. In fact, far from reserving its developments and patents for itself, Red Hat has been extremely scrupulous in sharing them with the greater Linux community. A web search on "redhat" and "proprietary" will quickly show this to be true.

However,the statement is true about SuSE and TurboLinux, both of which include some proprietary material.

On the other hand, Debian, one of the Big Four distributions, and probably Red Hat's chief rival, is completely free of proprietary software. The closest it comes is some "non-free" software in which packages like Netscape are included, but even these pieces of software are controversial and may be removed one day.

For example, one of the gravest pieces of misinformation is the notion that
open-source products are inherently more secure than Windows products. This is
not true. People often cite that there are more bugs logged against Windows then
RedHat - hence less secure. Nonsense, there are MORE installations of Windows
then RedHat, hence the pure law of probability is at work that more bugs would be
found. In that sense, its more likely a bug will get found and fixed in Windows
because there are more Windows systems out there to detect those bugs. That in an
of itself offers a level of security to the product.

But Red Hat is not Linux.Many security warnings apply to the whole of Linux.

Also, your argument would be valid if the subject was just desktops, but security is largely a server issue. The last I hear, Linux had about a 35% share in the server market. I believe that this is smaller than Windows' share, but it is still a significant chunk of the market - quite enough to benefit in the same way that you claim that Windows benefits. Of course,that doesn't prove that Linux is more secure, but it does undermine your counterclaim.

Second, people say - bugs get fixed quicker in Linux. Nonsense. There is no
financial incentive to patch Linux machines quickly.

Nonsense yourself. Follow the public announcements of possible bugs on a site like Linux Today, and you'll see that almost all bugs are fixed within a week, and some are fixed within a few days. In a few cases,the fix has come within a matter of hours of the announcement.

Compare this record to Windows. Microsoft has a policy of not even admitting that bugs exist, even after they are independently reported. Microsoft typically takes weeks, and sometimes even months to announce a patch.

Moreover there is no central mechanism to obtain the latest patches.

But there is. Patches are generally available from each distribution.

> Hence, many Linux systems are NEVER
patched after their initial installation.

Most systems of ANY sort are never patched. If they were, then Windows viruses wouldn't exploit the same weaknesses time after time.

In contrast, Windows has a simple
point-and-click update system that is almost moron-proof, making it much easier
to keep the systems updated.

Most distributions have a similar system.They also have their package systems for installing new software or updates.

The Debian package system is especially efficient.The command line tool apt-get is probably the safest, most efficient and convenient way to upgrade any operating system. Not only do Debian packages calculate dependencies for you, but you can even to apply patches while you're using the system and the software being updated.

Moreover, what platform do you think most (good) hackers use? Windows? No, they
use Linux or BSD. Most (good) hackers have no idea how the inner-workings of
Windows servers work. But they know Linux up down and sideways. Which means they
are many times more likely to be able to find new holes in Linux than Windows.

But are good hackers the problem, or script-kiddies?

Also, I can't help pointing out that, if this were so, then Linux would be more severely tested than Windows despite its smaller install base - which would disprove your argument above.

Don't get me wrong, open-source products are all good technologies and they do
offer a compelling alternative. But when you cut through the hype and promise and
nonsense, you realize that its all about the same.

I think it depends on what you're doing. For a casual desktop user, the basic experience will be very similar on any platform.A desktop is a desktop, and with a cross-platform program like OpenOffice, it's hard to know what operating system you're in. Linux makes better use of system resources and is a better multi-tasker than any version of Windows, but I don't suppose that most users would notice those facts. It's on the server and financial sides that Linux is really attractive.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

"Looking back at the long years
All that happened this way and that
I think I liked most the rice and the salt."
- Kim Stanley Robinson, "The Years of Rice and Salt"

FrameMaker-to-PDF TimeSavers Assistants let you enhance & automate navigation
in PDF doc sets (chapter tabs, next/prev chapter/pg, bookmarks, popup menus);
create interactive PDF forms, rollover popups; presentations:

Experience RoboHelp X3! This new RoboHelp release combines single sourcing,
print-quality documentation, conditional text and much more, into the most
monumental release of RoboHelp ever!

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Viva le Same! Linux: From: Andrew Plato

Previous by Author: Re: Linux users who like Windows
Next by Author: Re: Viva le Same! Linux
Previous by Thread: Re: Viva le Same! Linux
Next by Thread: Re: Viva le Same! Linux

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads