Weblog:   The Growing Politicization of Open Source
Subject:   What about the quality of the software purchased by the government
Date:   2002-08-16 16:15:02
From:   pkobly
Response to: What about the quality of the software purchased by the government

"But if the government is forced to impose a quality standards first, before source openness, i would expect to see the proprietary software companies to react first and in fact deliver software that is compliant with those standards."


1) How do you propose that a determination of compliance with quality standards be made? A set of black-box tests by the government? A bare assertion from the vendor?


2) Why do you "expect to see" something where you have actually consistently seen the opposite? How quickly did Microsoft respond to the recent major SSL certificate authentication problems in IE? How quickly did the KDE team respond to the same problems found in their code?


Answer: After a week, Microsoft still hasn't fixed the problem. Within 90 minutes, the KDE team had fixed Konqueror.


"You don't require Ford to publish their blueprints because "it wouldn't do most people any good whatsoever". You do require though that Ford cars are acceptable safe. And everybody is happy with this situation."


Ford _is_, however required to release some information about its cars. It is required to release specification and design information about its safety equipment so that said equipment can be evaluated and tested. It is required (recent FTC decision) to release specifications of the computer diagnostic ports, so that hobbyists and non-Ford authorized mechanics are _able_ to maintain their Ford vehicles. Ford is not permitted to stop after market parts cloners from producing replacement parts for Ford vehicles. Ford is not permitted to disallow Ford owners from reselling Ford vehicles. Ford is not permitted to disallow Ford owners from lending their vehicles to friends.

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  • What about the quality of the software purchased by the government
    2002-08-16 16:41:11  korwin [View]

    >2) Why do you "expect to see" something where
    >you have actually consistently seen the
    >opposite? How quickly did Microsoft respond to
    >the recent major SSL certificate authentication
    >problems in IE? How quickly did the KDE team
    >respond to the same problems found in their code?

    With all due respect to the KDE developers, i doubt that they tested this fix on 86 and 64, with every single Linux disro that can run KDE, with all the kernels and with all the major programs that actually use the Konqueror's engine for accessing internet. There is no way to do this in 90 minutes and btw there is no one to pay for this.
    Oh, and how many test scenarios did they run to ensure that not only they fixed this, but also have not broken any other functionality?
  • What about the quality of the software purchased by the government
    2002-08-16 17:05:19  korwin [View]

    >1) How do you propose that a determination of
    >compliance with quality standards be made?
    >A set of black-box tests by the government?
    >A bare assertion from the vendor?

    Combination of these. Set of base tests that do not require knowledge of the internal work of the product, liability assertion from the vendor with penalties for non-compliance and requirement of the design of sensitive parts, like encoding algorithms.

    >Ford is not permitted to disallow Ford
    >owners from lending their vehicles to friends.

    Lending your Ford to your friend is fair use. But can you lend a copy of your Ford to your friend?

    Red Hat Network Basic service level: $60/year per system subscription. Err, if the OS is free and open source, how exactly will they maintain "per system". If i lend my RedHat copy to a friend, is he entitled to the support as well? Or is it tied to the first installation i did? How is this different from buying Windows XP for $200, besides being little bit cheaper, which might not be true, because with XP there is no time limit for the support and the updates.
    The only difference is - if i want to thinker with my RedHat installation, i could do it. I could also (with the proper technological knowledge) even resolve my issue by my own. I couldn't do this with XP. And that is big difference if i had the time to invest in this process and the desire to learn everything inside it. But if i don't and want to use my computer right out of box and just enjoy it - well, i have to pay either Microsoft or RedHat. And honestly, for now Microsoft provides more value for the money.

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