I like Sunbelt Software and I have been a fan of their products for years. Additionally, I’ve been a reader of their blog SunbeltBLOG since it’s inception. If you’re interested in Windows security, I highly recommend adding it to your RSS reader.
That being said, I came across an article on their blog entitled “Are the Open Sourcerers Selling You a Bill of Goods?” by Deb Shinder, which frustrated me after reading it. The article irked me because it’s clear that Ms. Shinder is some what ignorant of exactly what Open Source software is, or isn’t, and yet felt compelled to write something on it. She doesn’t bash Open Source per se, but she does take issue with it, so I decided to write a response.
That response ended up taking a good bit of time to write, so as a result, I decided to post it here as well. Feel free to “read Shinder’s article then refer back to my response. Otherwise it might not make sense being out of context.
I think looking for one operating system to act as a panacea for every computing need is a bit naive. Each OS has it’s own strengths and weaknesses depending on their application. So to “throw the baby out with the bath water” just because an Open Source advocate doesn’t exclusively use Open Source solutions is silly. What’s also silly is that this blog is powered by Blogspot which is running Linux.
Others have already made excellent points regarding various aspects of Open Source, because to some extent some education is needed about exactly what Free and Open Source software is and isn’t. On that note, I highly recommend the TWIT podcast FLOSS Weekly (http://www.twit.tv/FLOSS). The first couple of episodes are very informative and worth a listen.
As or my own opinion, I think that FLOSS solutions are just starting to come “into their own” with corporate culture and being recognized as solid solutions. I think projects such as Firefox and Thunderbird are good examples and illustrate that business models exist for FLOSS software. For this reason, I think that corporations are coming around to considering certain Open Source solutions that provide answers to SPECIFIC problems. Many companies like knowing that someone is “on the hook” should something go wrong and having a profitable company behind a product is tantamount.
Does this mean that in short order we’ll see every desktop running Linux? Heck no, but to think that is to jump to conclusions. Conclusions that are based on a lack of information and perhaps a bit of a Freudian slip that highlight some of your underlying fears? If you haven’t already, I suggest you read Larry Augustin’s article “Time for a New Software Model” (http://www.sandhill.com/opinion/editorial.php?id=54).
From a corporate US perspective, Microsoft solutions have traditionally made good business sense and thankfully there’s a plethora of vendors and service providers that assist to support that decision — such as Sunbelt Software as well as myself. Your entire corporation exists because of Microsoft so to write about the Open Source source space reeks a bit of sensationalism. That fact that Alex feels the need to preference your article only compounds that fact.
That issue aside, what Open Source software provides is freedom. Freedom to choose. People that feel that Microsoft is the right choice for them are free to make that choice. However, there are just as many companies, schools, and individuals whose needs require a different choice and Open Source gives them just that.
Lastly, in regards to wether FLOSS is better, more secure, or superior, it just seems like we’re using broad strokes to oversimplify an issue whose only intent is to insight an argument. Is ALL closed source software bad? No. Is ALL Open Source software more secure? No. I think it boils down to a case-by-case basis of specific software addressing specific technology problems. Problems that are unique to the user/business/government making the decision.