[Fsfe-uk] Re: BBC TV: Click: Free=beer and facebook-flaming

Ian Lynch ian.lynch at zmsl.com
Sun May 18 11:55:08 UTC 2008

On Sun, 2008-05-18 at 12:42 +0200, Florian Weimer wrote:
> * Ben Finney:
> > Florian Weimer <fw at deneb.enyo.de> writes:
> >
> >> * MJ Ray:
> >> 
> >> > didn't mention how free (as in freedom) software allows any random
> >> > end-user to check or have it checked.
> >> 
> >> How is this different from proprietary software?
> >
> > Either this is obvious, or I'm not understanding the question.
> >
> > Software that doesn't give the user freedom to inspect the source code
> > and pass it on to others, doesn't allow the user to check the software
> > themselves or have someone else check it and pass it along to them.
> > This is distinct from free software, which allows all of this.
> These days, there's hardly any widely used piece of proprietary software
> for which you can't get the source code.  You can't make modifications,
> and there might be restrictions with whom you can share your results,
> but security reviews based on source code are definitely possible.

But you might of course get sued by an IPR holder if you then worked on
a similar project and they claimed you had stolen their idea that you
saw in their code. Shared source has specific risks to the user that
FOSS doesn't have.

> It's also not clear if source code availability is that helpful for
> uncovering security bugs.

Certainly there are some deterrents in exercising the right to go and
take a look depending on how the proprietary software is licensed.
Whether this makes a practical difference? Who knows?

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