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Free Can Make You Bleed: the Underresourced Open Source 175

Posted by timothy
from the superheroes-of-the-real-world dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes "After the Heartbleed fiasco, John Walsh brings attention to the lack of proper manpower and funding to run various open source projects. Free is not usually a bad thing, but it can be when it causes the software your business depends on to be under resourced. 'OpenSSL for example is largely staffed by one fulltime developer and a number of part-time volunteer developers. The total labor pool for OpenSSL maybe adds up to two fulltime developers. Think about it, OpenSSL only has two people to write, maintain, test, and review 500,000 lines of business critical code. Half of these developers have other things to do.' Theo de Raadt has also spoken about too much donations coming from the little people instead of companies, and not too long ago even the OpenBSD project almost couldn't pay its power bills. Walsh goes on to ponder security of open source software, the 'many eyes' phenomenon, dedicating people to review code, and quality control."
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Free Can Make You Bleed: the Underresourced Open Source

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  • by Jody Bruchon (3404363) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @08:44AM (#46907225)
    The author works for the actual SSH company that sells commercial SSH software. Though the points may largely be valid, a lot of the slant in the article is meant to tell people "this is what happens when you don't pay for software, so buy our commercial stuff today. Because it can't POSSIBLY suffer from the same kind of mistake, right? Right guys? ...guys?"

    SSH programmers make mistakes. The article writer has an agenda and it's quite obvious. There is no reason to assume SSH is of any better quality than OpenSSH. He even shoots his implication in the foot: "are you going to review two year old patches for errors? No, of course not." This is no different in paid software. If it gets missed during any sort of review, the hole remains. See the recent IE 0-day hole (which has only been around for over a decade) for proof that this is true.
  • Money no guarantee (Score:4, Informative)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @09:15AM (#46907359)

    Free is not usually a bad thing, but it can be when it causes the software your business depends on to be under resourced.

    Of course, paying money for closed source software is no guarantee that it's going to be adequately resourced either. Compare the two most recent, high-profile flaws, both very similar, in that they deal with memory allocation issues:
    - Heartbleed on SSL has a team of 2, was extant for 2 years, was patched in 6 days, and the patch was available to anyone who used the software
    - CVE-2014-1776 on Internet Explorer. Don't know how many people the team, was extant for 13 years, was patched in 6 days, and the patch was originally going to be denied to users who hadn't upgraded recently.

    This does not seem to be an issue with closed vs open source development models - both have had major vulnerabilities extand for far too long, and both can turn around fairly rapid patches when needed. Doling out cash to Microsoft is no more effective at securing your applications than using free open source products.

  • Re:Cheap ass gits. (Score:4, Informative)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @11:03AM (#46907925) Journal
    A moron in the UK is commonly referred to as a "useless git". A "git" is an old ironworkers term, it's the (useless) bit of metal that solidifies in the pour hole of a cast. I think "git" software derives it's name from the way some Americans pronounce "get", but I have no idea if that's true..
  • Re:Cheap ass gits. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jody Bruchon (3404363) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @11:45AM (#46908163)
    Free as in freedom, not as in beer. This is the biggest problem with the use of the word "free" to explain it, which was one reason "open source" was coined. "Free" implies "no cost" to most people.

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