Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Sep 2017 21:20 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source

Digital services offered and used by public administrations are the critical infrastructure of 21st-century democratic nations. To establish trustworthy systems, government agencies must ensure they have full control over systems at the core of our digital infrastructure. This is rarely the case today due to restrictive software licences.

Today, 31 organisations are publishing an open letter in which they call for lawmakers to advance legislation requiring publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made available under a Free and Open Source Software licence.

Good initiative, and a complete and utter no-brainer. Public money, public code.

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RE: This old chestnut again
by kwan_e on Sun 17th Sep 2017 09:30 UTC in reply to "This old chestnut again"
kwan_e
Member since:
2007-02-18

You have a bunch of criticisms that don't take into account the alternative that we already see is worse.

Open source quite often means "you can take it free of charge and not pay anything". There are companies out there that make money out of such software, but that's because they are so big, it is difficult to compete with them.


And yet startups keep popping up and use open source software. Open source software is just as much a way to decrease barriers to entry as it is for big companies to get free stuff. Tell us a way to decrease barriers to entry for startups without open source.

The idea that tax payers should pay for new open source software development and then give it away to Google or Facebook to increase their profits, is rather grotesque.


Uh, tax payers are already paying for software to be developed and basically "given away" to the company that is contracted to develop it to increase their profits.

It is a myth that open source software is better and more secure. If you have one million monkeys review open source code, this will not make it any more secure.


Yes, review on its own doesn't make anything better unless acted upon. But you can't even have a chance of acting on anything if review can't happen in the first place; and the action will be much slower.

Think about Heartbleed. Sure, it was a silly vulnerability to have let through. Was it really the end of the world? The problem was identified quickly, the bug located quickly, then the bug was fixed quickly. Trying getting that with closed source software. You can't even have the conversation and must hope the vendor will allocate resources to it.

There are software engineering techniques that ensure software is designed correctly and free of bugs, but quite often they are not used for the majority of software, because they are too expensive or time consuming, or require software developers to change their old habits, well good luck with that when somebody is coding for fun in their spare time.


How is software developed for public services "coding for fun in their spare time"? This is about source code developed under public contract. Now you're just having your bone to pick with open source instead of coming up with a relevant argument.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: This old chestnut again
by rom508 on Sun 17th Sep 2017 10:51 in reply to "RE: This old chestnut again"
rom508 Member since:
2007-04-20

And yet startups keep popping up and use open source software. Open source software is just as much a way to decrease barriers to entry as it is for big companies to get free stuff. Tell us a way to decrease barriers to entry for startups without open source.


Same thing applies everything in life. Open source is good for some things, not so good for other. You get what you pay for, which is why people spend loads of money on new luxury cars, instead of getting old bangers for free.

Think about Heartbleed. Sure, it was a silly vulnerability to have let through. Was it really the end of the world? The problem was identified quickly, the bug located quickly, then the bug was fixed quickly. Trying getting that with closed source software. You can't even have the conversation and must hope the vendor will allocate resources to it.


You are talking about the quality of software, if you can guarantee software is free of bugs, the fact that something is open or closed is irrelevant. Also I'm pretty sure governments can obtain access to source code via NDAs, so it's not as closed as you imagine.

How is software developed for public services "coding for fun in their spare time"? This is about source code developed under public contract. Now you're just having your bone to pick with open source instead of coming up with a relevant argument.


Or replacing existing closed software with open source alternatives, some of which is developed by community for fun in their spare time, i.e. no dedicated test teams, or unit tests, etc.

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE[3]: This old chestnut again
by kwan_e on Sun 17th Sep 2017 11:28 in reply to "RE[2]: This old chestnut again"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

"And yet startups keep popping up and use open source software. Open source software is just as much a way to decrease barriers to entry as it is for big companies to get free stuff. Tell us a way to decrease barriers to entry for startups without open source.


Same thing applies everything in life.
"

No, it doesn't. Software is a completely different beast.

Think about Heartbleed. Sure, it was a silly vulnerability to have let through. Was it really the end of the world? The problem was identified quickly, the bug located quickly, then the bug was fixed quickly. Trying getting that with closed source software. You can't even have the conversation and must hope the vendor will allocate resources to it.


You are talking about the quality of software, if you can guarantee software is free of bugs, the fact that something is open or closed is irrelevant. [/q]

No, I'm talking about the ability to improve the quality of software over time. Something that is closed is relevant. Look at all the government code running on mainframes. They have bugs, just like all software. They cannot be fixed because the people doing the support aren't able to either.

Also I'm pretty sure governments can obtain access to source code via NDAs, so it's not as closed as you imagine.


That's not the point. The point is who gets to audit. Having a handful of people to audit is not the same as getting hundreds of people to audit.

"How is software developed for public services "coding for fun in their spare time"? This is about source code developed under public contract. Now you're just having your bone to pick with open source instead of coming up with a relevant argument.


Or replacing existing closed software with open source alternatives, some of which is developed by community for fun in their spare time, i.e. no dedicated test teams, or unit tests, etc.
"

You know there are such things as contracts, and there are such things in contracts where one party can stipulate the other party do certain things. In this context, there's nothing stopping the government from stipulating that the contractor's job is to also make whatever open source they're using more tested.

With closed source software, you can't even put that in a contract because that company can't gain access to the third party library code without a huge cost.

Reply Parent Score: 3