Darwin's Theories Blog

New Theories for a New Time

On Strike for a better world?

Nope, just making my choices for better software.
When I mentioned on a mailing list that I don't use Skype because it's closed source both at the protocol level and at the code level, and further they don't even provide binaries for OpenBSD, a colleague on that list wrote back:

This is pretty strange... Are you on strike or something? Do you
use any non-open source products?

I wrote back that no, I actually link:/freeware/non-open.html[do not use non-open software], "at least on computers where I care about security". That is, of course, all my computers. What is so "strange" about using open source software?  It's free to use, and the code is readily available so people can look at it, find flaws and repair them.  That's not to say that people can't find flaws without source - just look at all the MS-Windows viruses, worms, etc. - but it is easier to repair them with source code. And it's not to say that open source software is without its share of aggravations: OpenOffice.org has some "interesting" issues when trying to print from its slide show program, for example. And "impress" nowhere as flashy nor as complete as Keynote, which I did use for a while. On the other hand, closed-source software has those annoyances too; O'Reilly has an entire "annoyances" book series on them, after all. Furthermore, closed software can be and has been a way of hiding illicit functionality: certain large OS vendors have been caught spying illegally on their customers, for example. I conclude that open source software is likely to be more secure than closed source, and I choose to live my life according to what I believe. Is that what's strange? How does one work to make the world a better place, if not by living what you believe?