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I'm not talking about openssl, PHP, or even the Linux kernel but all the above plus every other program or bit of code on a Linux system. It's vulnerable. It's hackable. It can be changed at will by anyone because the source is open and freely available (the definition of open source).

Windows code, on the other hand, is not open and available, therefore it's much safer.

Do you believe that open source programs are more vulnerable because their code is available, visible and accessible? Do you believe that the Windows operating system and Windows applications are more secure because the code isn't available to you and potential hackers?

You'd be right if you believe the first and wrong if you believe the second of those questions. Why?

While it's true that allowing someone to view your code, leaves it somewhat more vulnerable than if it were hidden--it is not true that hidden code is more secure. So, if it's more vulnerable, why all the hype about Linux and open source and why does anyone think it's better?

Because Linux is more secure. Say what???

It works like this: If your code is visible, hackers, crackers, and annoying tweakers can get in and perhaps find a security vulnerability and exploit it. It's also visible to the good guys who can fix those vulnerabilities--in fact, by the time you hear of a security vulnerability in the open source world, someone has already fixed it and posted the patch for all to download and use--many repositories pick up the fixes so that they can be installed automatically.

Alternatively, Windows vulnerabilities are often exploited worldwide at the cost of hours and hours of time, disrupted business, stolen credit card info, and compromise of critical data and systems. By the time a fix is available, the damage is done.

Ask anyone from the 2008 Black Hat Hacker's Conference where Mac OS X was hacked first, then Vista but Linux withstood all and emerged as the only OS that was not hacked.

Are you at risk? Yes, everyone is, but you're safer with Linux than with any other operating system. Keep that system up to date with yum, apt-get, smart or other automatic download, install and patch tools and sleep better at night.

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http://itheresies.blogspot.com/2005_04_01_archive.html

Monday, April 11, 2005
Core, maintaining reputation and license to fork

The major commercial Linux distributions ( such as Redhat, Suze, Mandrake etc ) and bundling vendors ( such as openlogic's blueglue ) maintain a large number of open source software packages as part of their core products. The reputation each of these distributions is entirely dependent upon the quality and security of each component. All of the vendors apply patches to the software before compiling, so effectively they maintain the included packages for you. You can depend on the vendors desire to maintain their reputation to use the open source software they distribute.

The difference with pure proprietary software is that either through a desire to do the right thing or because of the terms of the license, changes made by the vendors get distributed back to the open source software project developers. If you see that the original developers are including patches from the vendors or applying their own solutions to fix the same issues in a timely manner, then you can expect to trust that software project independent of the vendor platform.

To a lesser extent, the same dynamics of reputation apply to "community" Linux distributions ( Debian, Gentoo ) and vendor "development" distributions ( Fedora ).

At some point some open source projects developers may go in a direction that the distribution vendors and end uses may disagree with. It is the licensing which allows a fork of the project to develop that sets the open source development model apart from the pure proprietary development model. Apache, X.org and even the current version of the GNU GCC compiler toolset have been all derived from an outside fork of an existing open source project. No vendor or open source software developer can block development for any substantial period of time without the risk of the development being taken over by a descendant of the same project -- it's called evolution.

Any so called analyst or even a journalist who covers open source software, that cannot grasp the above simple concepts must be lacking in either competence or integrity.

- republish at will

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@NZheretic

Thanks. That is an informative and useful post. I appreciate it.

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