Unix vs Linux - the movie.

John S. J. Anderson jacobs+usenet at genehack.org
Wed Jul 26 06:37:46 EST 2000


>>>>> "Andrew" == Andrew Dalke <dalke at acm.org> writes:

Andrew> Out of curiosity, what are your feelings on software where you
Andrew> get the source but it isn't "open source."  For examples,
Andrew> DSSP, MolScript and XPLOR are all packages (can you see my
Andrew> structure background :) where you get the source code, even
Andrew> for free for academics, but you are not allowed to
Andrew> redistribute the source or any changes.

I think that's fine -- my position isn't based on any kind of
'information should be free' moral position, but rather on the
logic that all software has bugs, and without the source, it's very
difficult to know that those bugs _aren't_ in the routines that
calculate the answer that you're going to publish. 

Andrew> But with these programs there is still the possibility of
Andrew> doing a "true peer review" of the source code, even though
Andrew> they are closed.

And that's really what I'm concerned with -- having some way of
knowing or proving that the information output by the program is
correct. In fact, given that the vast majority of software use in the
bio-sciences is (I imagine) by people with no programming knowledge,
what I'd really like to see is some sort of certification by a trusted
third party. 

Since that's likely to be unworkable for a number of reasons, source
code access is a workable intermediate step.

john.

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