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zboxassist

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Reply with quote  #1 
Rumor: I was talking with an ex-IBMer. He told me that IBM is planning (long-term) to eliminate as much of their proprietary software as possible in favor of open-source across all platforms. This means that IBM will be replacing their proprietary operating systems (e.g., AIX, z/OS, etc.) with open source solutions.

Hopefully this is not true.

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Zamin

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Reply with quote  #2 
This is the kind of move that would have made sense a long time ago. There have been two main streams of of commercial computerization. I can see why younger people taking over would think this way, and in the long run it probably makes sense. This will mean that a lot of software will need to be replaced, but I will be retired before it affects me.
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zboxassist

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Reply with quote  #3 
In general, I believe that open-source (O-S) solutions tend to be “inexpensive”. [Of course, CIOs seem to like that.] However, I suspect that O-S authors tend to lack the resources needed to maintain high quality over the long-haul across all the phases of software life-cycle. I believe that open source depends on the generosity, goodwill, and skill of its contributors which can vary drastically over time. I also believe that enterprise class software should have consistent high quality over the decades. I’m not confident that the O-S model will do that because people need to eat, want more, stuff happens, etc. which alters their available resources, generosity, goodwill, etc.
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automan

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Reply with quote  #4 
This idea was being loosely bandied around about 20 years ago. I had a very frank discussion of this subject in Poughkeepsie when it started to gain some traction. We now have a new generation of management and ideas, so who knows? The idea of Open Source is that continually new programmers will be interested in learning what is in old code, to check, verify and enhance functionality. With open source you need champions who keep authorized and guaranteed versions available. The moment that happens you get different flavours developing. The broad range of versions of Unix and Linux available demonstrate this. As zboxassist points out, people need to eat and I do not see programmers maintaining goodwill as starving artists.
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zboxassist

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Reply with quote  #5 
Very good point -- "you need champions who keep authorized and guaranteed versions available,,,you get different flavours developing." That is competition with little to no monetary profit. That kind of system is going to be difficult to keep healthy over the decades in a capitalist economy.

I think open source has another problem -- as it ages and more and more people modify them and more and more features are added, all while trying to maintain backward compatibility; it is likely to become more complex and less efficient. As software becomes more complex, it is harder to maintain and debug. It is also harder to ensure that it cannot be secretly misused or abused as a security vulnerability. While there are open source projects to attempt to address these kinds of issues -- those projects seem to constantly struggle for sufficient resources to achieve their goals.

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Reply with quote  #6 
With proprietary software we keep design notes that are an essential part of the package, because they can outline reasons for perhaps obscure code. Sometimes logic is strange and when making mods a programmer might slip something in to do a useful job that they perceive, but that appears to have no relevance in that particular section of code. Although I teach copious note making, many programmers do not fill their code with notes. Names that mean something and notes in the code are largely the only documentation a programmer is given with open code. Control of the code, strict versioning and compatibility are all good reasons when there should be centralized control over commercial software that is used for important business purposes.

I have often thought about this misuse problem. With open code many people assume there are diligent programmers examining every piece of code constantly. This is simply not true and there is the possibility of writing malicious code and including it in a package. If malicious code is not actually stopping you getting the results you want, then it is likely to slip into the background and not be noticed for a long time.
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zboxassist

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Reply with quote  #7 
Exactly. Open code has no quality/security assurance. People only check to see that it does want they need and rarely, if ever, check to ensure that it does not do other things they don't want it to do. Very few people seem to be willing to donate the task of quality/security assurance.
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Reply with quote  #8 
Here is a good argument against the use of open code for business purposes. Essentially the owner of code deleted it so it was no longer available for compilations. This story serves as a reminder about why we should not jump on a bandwagon. I will bet that many decisions of this sort have been made by people with an awareness it is there, but not how it works.  

http://www.sciencealert.com/how-a-programmer-almost-broke-the-internet-by-deleting-11-lines-of-code
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zboxassist

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Reply with quote  #9 
Good point.  Ouch.  That could have been so much worse.  Of course, if a open-source hiccup affects everyone, there is a much better chance to get a quick fix. I suspect that if the issue only affected a small percentage of the businesses, those businesses might have had a real hard time getting a good solution in a timely fashion.  I could also image their competition trying to take advantage of the situation in hopes of eliminating them.
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Reply with quote  #10 
The point you made about the competition is quite valid, however when I was discussing this with a government agency it was raised more in terms of sabotage. As I have found out recently the repositories themselves are no longer secure against hackers. I think it was in February of this year that hackers compromised the Linux Mint repositories and all the ISOs made for a couple weeks contained nefarious software. Anyone who used those needs to scrub their machines clean and start over with a new ISO. The point is that if it is not firmly under your control, someone else can easily get you. Just imagine that you have systems where physicians rely on accurate information about patients and instead of seeing the patients records, they see advertising for spurious products. This is no joke. It would be remarkably short sighted of any ethical, governmental or financial service provider to rely on it.
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Zamin

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Reply with quote  #11 
I had to look up the word "consternation" to make sure it meant what our director thought he was saying when I wrote him a report and quoted that article. We thought we were all steam ahead on looking at open platforms for the future, now I have to report on alternatives if IBM go this route. It is almost funny.
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