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Government Open Source Your Rights Online

How Open Source Might Finally Become Mainstream 231

geegel writes "The Wall Street Journal has a very interesting article on how autocracies are now embracing open source, while at the same promoting national based IT services. The author, Evgeny Morozov, paints a bleak future of the future World Wide Web."
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How Open Source Might Finally Become Mainstream

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  • by Amorymeltzer ( 1213818 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:41PM (#34855802)

    At the end of 2010, the "open-source" software movement, whose activists tend to be fringe academics and ponytailed computer geeks...

    Here are some opening lines from previous Wall Street Journal articles:

    - At the end of 2010, the "global financial" traders, who tend to be morally crippled and calloused egomaniacs...
    - At the end of 2010, the "journalistic reporting" newspapers, whose employees tend to be hypocritical parasites and star-struck airheads...
    - At the end of 2010, the "United States", whose elected representatives tend to be greedy lawyers and ignorant blowhards...

    How fun!

  • FUD as in FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:43PM (#34855816)
    Open Source, by its very nature, can't be "taken over". It is open for everyone to examine, and for anyone to fix if they find problems.

    I do not doubt that governments may try to control the internet and other information access. But if they try to "take over" the software, then it is no longer Open Source, by definition.

    I think muddling the issues of control and Open Source together will lead to little but confusion.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:44PM (#34855838) Homepage

    xIn Capitalist America, government works for big business.

    Wait, that's still not a joke.

  • It already is... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:45PM (#34855846)
    Open Source is already mainstream. Android has made Linux mainstream, most browsers other than IE and Opera are mostly open source, etc.
  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @07:49PM (#34855884)

    I like how he mentioned computer geeks and academics, but not Google, Red Hat, IBM or hundreds of other examples of open source in mainstream life.

    Like most of the WSJ this article is full of FUD and written to agree with their readers pre-conceived notions.

  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @08:05PM (#34856066) Homepage Journal

    It's sadly true. The technology for implementing fascism is getting better every day, and the US is sadly headed very rapidly in that direction.

  • by C3ntaur ( 642283 ) <> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @08:07PM (#34856080) Journal

    I'm encouraged to hear that major organizations are finally seeing the light.

    To use a (yet another, sorry) car analogy: Open source is like being able to buy a service manual and replacement parts at your local auto shop, and then doing the work yourself -- or paying a mechanic of your choice to do it for you. Closed source is more like buying the car with the hood welded shut, and any attempt to modify or service it yourself not only voids the warranty, but is actually criminal in some situations and jurisdictions. Moreover, the manufacturer is under no obligation to disclose or repair defects or "undocumented features" -- such as logging your travels and selling it to the highest bidder.

  • by 19061969 ( 939279 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @08:12PM (#34856140)
    Good grief! Open source becoming mainstream? Have these people not heard of BIND? Apache? Firefox? PHP? Perl? Since when have these been marginal? Anyway, the article is mostly complaining that open source software might be put to bad purposes but that can happen with any software. Quoth: "The embrace of open-source technology by governments may result in more intuitive software applications," I wonder if the writer has ever used govt mandated software. Intuitive it ain't. The writer's other point about (eg) skype failing because of different systems being used - how many non-Chinese people here have ever heard of QQ? These differences exist already.
  • Logic fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by starfishsystems ( 834319 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @08:31PM (#34856304) Homepage
    "The embrace of open-source technology by governments may result in ... domestic alternatives that would provide secret back-door access"

    Oh really? And how exactly is that going to work, given that open source is by definition not secret?

    (I get that in a complex code base it may be possible to insert malicious code. But this is true of any code base, hardly a defining characteristic of open source.)
  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @08:35PM (#34856336)

    Mangers and Executives via "Corporate Visions" of course, those other folks just do that trivial crap called actual work.

  • Re:FUD as in FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @08:43PM (#34856412) Homepage Journal

    There is a pretty clear definition of Open Source, and it does not mean software that your government (or anybody else) locks you into using.

    The definition of open source is orthogonal to being required to use the software. If your government (or anyone else, such as your employer) says "you will use Linux," you're locked in; it has no effect on the open-source-ness of Linux itself. OSS has the advantage of being less prone to vendor lock-in than proprietary software does, but that's a separate issue.

  • by t2t10 ( 1909766 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:14PM (#34856670)

    It's just too bad that democratic politicians aren't also nervous about wasting tax payer dollars on proprietary software, becoming dependent on the capricious whims of software companies, and become concerned about backdoors in their software.

    Perhaps this difference in nervousness can be explained by the fact that democratic politicians are more susceptible to the financial and political pressures of corporations, while autocrats don't have to give a damn?

    In any case, the whole article sounds like a smear campaign, trying to associate open source software with communism and "autocrats"; in fact, a number of democracies have also seen the light on open source software and also mandated its use there.

  • by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:27PM (#34857186) Homepage

    Actually that reminds me, on the subject of autocratic regimes and welded-shut hoods.

    I recently did some work on a Ford that was having acceleration issues. It turns out, the problem was simple: the air flow sensor needed cleaning. Unfortunately, the air flow sensor is held in place by two "tamper-proof" Torx(TM) screws.

    Now, as every self-respecting geek should know, there is really no such thing as a tamper-proof screw. In this case, it's actually just a "really expensive to remove" screw, because the special bits are patented and only sold through "restricted" channels (Sears). And thanks to that ridiculous Supreme Court case making such things legal, there are probably lots of contractual obligations attached. At Sears, the only option was to purchase an entire set of bits for $40. So, apparently, the strategy for making these screws "tamper proof" was to prevent the poor and people unaware of Sears from removing them.

    A set of knock-off bits, shipped all the way from "autocratic" China, was only $2.

  • by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @02:29AM (#34858432)

    Wait, are shareholders not people now?

    Sure they are but legally they are only entitled to one vote per person, not ten thousand times the political influence of the average voter by virtue of being a major shareholder in a corporation that "owns" a bunch of politicians.

    And have we revoked the right of people to associate as they see fit, which implies the right to form corporations to pursue common business interests?

    Well, you are free to hang out with anyone you want to but maybe it's time to return the corporation to its roots, when the purpose of a corporation wasn't "maximize profit for the shareholders regardless of legal or ethical implications" but rather to provide a product or service that would be beneficial to the community.

  • by FoolishOwl ( 1698506 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:03AM (#34858582) Journal

    The most astonishing thing about this atrocious article is that not only does it not question whether it's legitimate for US institutions to undermine and manipulate the political and economic institutions of the world, it actually, openly proposes that openness is a threat, because it inhibits covert action.

    The point of free and open source software is freedom. That is not the point of US power blocs and their covert operations.

  • by Darfeld ( 1147131 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @04:53AM (#34858980)

    Nazism stand for National Socialism.

    Fascism seems to be mostly a far right thing, but can occasionally be on the left of the political spectrum... The original Italian fascism promoted a corporatist economy. And it's not "a modern form" of communism, as it is far from modern and has nothing to do with "communism or not". It just happened that you can have both fascism and communism at the same time. If you're confused by the distinction, please don't write bullshit.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton