Colytic wrote:I would contend, privacy-wise, it absolutely does. If Skype was open-source, would PRISM have been implemented? One of the greatest attractions of Linux is that it's in the community's hands.
First off, there should really be a Godwin-like law concerning PRISM. Second, your argument goes down the drain when Apache Hadoop is one of the notable pieces of software supposedly involved which is completely open source.
Going with something because it's open source without any further arguments is naive at best. Why?
- When making it possible for every scriptkiddie with an "I can do programming me" attitude to contribute to your project, you need experienced and
responsible maintainers to make sure only quality code ends up in the stable branch.
- In order to justify the "everyone can see the code they use and complain if they think it's wrong" you need people (outside the project) to actually do that. In reality, there's lots of projects no-one has ever bothered to look at.
- Code quality and maintainability requires a team working together closely and having the same ideas. In reality, various styles end up in 1 project and maintainers and developers can tend to get lost in political nonsense surrounding a project.
- Community support is only as good as the people in your community. More often than not, the people with enough brains, tact, language skills and patience to give proper tech support will find they have better things to do than get cursed at by random nobodies who think they know software.
- Open source (by itself) gives you zero guarantees about a project's future.
Before you go off thinking I'm opposed to open source, let me point out that I use Linux Mint on my laptop, manage various servers run on Debian, CentOS and FreeBSD, am part of an organisation hosting (amongst others) ftp.debian.org and (until Mozilla recently decided to start using their own CDN) the biggest Firefox download mirror in the world, and earn most of my money by programming in Python and building Linux management tools.
I'm also an Opera user. My desktop runs Windows, my office desktop is a Mac. I use various Google services, and I have a Facebook account.
I use Linux where I can because it is greatly manageable and customizeable as a server platform, and I know how reliable it is through years of experience. I use Linux Mint on my lappy because it's lightweight and I love its GUI. I program Python because its extremely powerful yet simple and readable. And I support open source projects when there's more merits than being open source. When you ignore open/closed source, you start judging something on its actual values.
Personally, I use Opera because it is the only browser I've ever seen be stable with 50+ tabs open (which is my default), has a proper mouse gesture engine, works sleek and fast and has a significantly better track record patching security vulnerabilities than any other browser (look, it's a source!
). I have yet to see someone substantially back up any claims about privacy issues in Opera. Meanwhile, I do not use Firefox because I find it's crash-prone, you need loads of extensions to get something that would fit my workflow and recent changes seem to contiuously favour fancy looks over performance.
Basically my message is: learn to think for yourself, beyond what the vendors themselves tell you about why you should trust them. I've made very conscious decisions about using certain services and products because of their convenience and taking into account that means companies might know "stuff" about me. I've seen self-absorbed assholes claim they shit gold because they call their products open source, which I decided to reject, and I've seen closed source products be better than any other attempt could even dream about being, which I decided to adopt. I'm not saying you shouldn't care about privacy or open source, but making any of those your top priority in decision making is basically saying to yourself you're going to make misguided judgments.
I've also learnt to not blindly trust anything anyone says, even if the worldwide media get collectively riled up when some guy mails documents no-one will ever be able to reliably verify. Besides, if you really believe everything about the whole PRISM thing and are making such a big deal out of it, you really aren't as privacy-conscious as you claim to be, since a) everyone with even a hint of know-how in the field would've told you all this was possible even before Enemy Of The State made it to the cinemas in 1998, and b) why didn't you start such a riot when the PATRIOT act was passed, which was basically just a press release announcing the start of such a programme.
tl;dr: I call shenanigans.