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Feature

Applications Ahoy
New applications for the iPhone and Android OS are being created by the 3,000 new employees at Appcelerator, creator of open source applications.

Botnet alert
Trend Micro has spotted the first mobile phone based botnet named SYMBOS_ YXES.B. This botnet currently is known to affect Symbian-based mobile phones.

Myths about
Agent 001
agent001@thinkdigit.com

Open Source

I

recently met an old school friend over a cup of coffee and we spoke about life, movies and music. Then the topic moved on to technology, the best graphic card and I suggested what motherboard he should buy. Giving such advice just never gets me tired. Anyway, the conversation moved to open source and

how he really didn’t get the concept of it and he was just against it. This friend of mine was a loyal one operating-system man and didn’t want to move away from his comfort zone. He also had a few doubts about open source in general – but these were just myths and random rumours heard from others that I’m sure many people have come across. So I decided to go through them and be a myth buster of sorts. Maybe he won’t use open source, but at least he won’t be against it, is what I thought. Sounds fair, but what about support for all this? I’ve heard so many complaints from friends that they keep getting stuck while using Linux either at work or at home. Not everybody went to engineering college and studied programming, you know. You don’t really need to have an engineering degree to use Linux for day to day computing. The desktop environment has evolved considerably and is now very usable. Some might even say distributions such as Linux Mint resemble the Microsoft Windows desktop environment. The fact here is that your basic tasks really don’t need any support as they are quite simple, but when you do need support for anything, you just need to look to the internet. Each open source project usually has a community built around it that helps develop that particular application. So whenever you are stuck, you can always go back to them and they are normally quite friendly. The best thing about open source is that there will be multiple communities for the same thing. So there is support, although it is scattered. Thinking from a corporate point of view, I really don’t think companies would advise their staff to go and look for a solution to a problem themselves. What would the IT department be doing in this case?

It’s not that I don’t use open source, I do use many free programs, so you could say I’m not against it. Ah, that’s where you are mistaken. You see, everything free is not open source and everything open source is not necessarily free. An open source project is first started off with an idea from somebody. Of course nobody will just jump on the bandwagon immediately, as first that person will have to create the application or operating system he is making. From then on, an announcement can be made where in people will form a community around that project and help develop it. There is a licence called the GPL (GNU General Public Licence) under which there is something known as copyleft, which lets the creator have rights over the software, but at the same time it can be used, modified and distributed freely.

So where does money come into play?

Open source has licences that can be beneficial to the creators. Some companies have dual licences, which allows them to charge for their product or services. So their trademark is in place and they can sell their product. If there are individuals who are doing the same for their distributions or software, then it is basically the cost of the media that you will be paying for. (Eg. CDs, DVDs, etc.)

If you look at things from that perspective then there is a solution, but cost comes into the picture here. When shifting to an open source infrastructure, the IT staff will have to undergo training for open source. But if you are starting from scratch, then you just need to pick up those who already have knowledge in that field. Also some enterprise level solutions such as Red Hat provide support, according to the subscription you opt for.

32 Digit | August 2009 | www.thinkdigit.com

Yes. So there. you are not always logged in as the Administrator. fine. but what about Counter Strike or even Crysis? So what about the viruses and worms running around in cyber space? Won’t I get attacked if I’m using Linux? Actually you won’t. it’s not going to be too long before everybody can game on an equal level. that not all games are able to run on Linux systems. in this case hackers or scriptkiddies? Hackers have not only been spreading viruses and other malicious threats. there are a few good Linux titles out there. a disgruntled and frustrated employee.com 33 . I’m sure you’ve already heard of Quake Live. as they aren’t as easy as joining a community on Facebook. THE BAD SIDE OF OPEN SOURCE We aren’t talking about the drawbacks of open source here. It all comes down to programming. On top of that.thinkdigit. if I am running a Linux distribution? Don’t rush into it though. for instance. but seriously. At the same time. but I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle. How am I supposed to play Counter Strike. but instead we are talking about how the whole concept of open source can be used for evil. These communities are still present on various IRC channels. and once the code is freely distributed. Maybe from there you could move on to Ubuntu or Linux Mint. The fuss over here is about Dell’s recycling service which is not easily found on its web site. the viruses being created are more Windows-oriented and even with the current anti-virus applications available for Linux. and I’m not talking about something like Minesweeper or Solitaire or even those web sites with flash-based games. Fine. But you have changed the view I had about open source in general though. you give the evil-minded people a chance to create havoc. be it Mac. Permissions work differently in Linux. But what happens when this is done by the villains. like say Open Office which is the open source equivalent to MS Office. but in this case the evil-minded person could be. how can I just trust any version of Linux to download. you could always start off with something small. Windows or Linux. so there is a smaller chance to install any malicious software on your PC. where all the hardware is taken care of. Going green Greenpeace is on the prowl over its next target – Dell. how do I know someone has not modified it to put in a trojan or something? Well there have been many arguments about the risks of open source and how by distributing the source code itself. I mean since the source code is open to all. maybe I’ll try it out. there’s no stopping them. along with instructions on how to use it. but in fact have been also spreading the whole recipe of how to create them. Yea. As mentioned earlier. but don’t expect to join such groups in an instant. there are alternatives. a closed source project is prone to a similar case. the one major problem I see with open source is gaming. The way open source works is that the source code of an application or project is distributed freely in such a way that others can modify and reuse it. they all mostly scan for Windowsbased viruses which don’t even affect Linux users.Mojo Palm has launched a Mojo Software Development Kit (SDK) beta which will be available free to any and all interested app developers and is based on the standard app development HTML. Think of it as cloud gaming. and I’m sure many others also want some games in their life. or in Linux – Root. There are MMORPGs such as Second Life and Vendetta Online that one could try out too. and don’t forget America’s Army. Quake 3 is one of them. That is a tough one. I guess I am seeing the bigger picture about open source here. But it won’t be too long before these games will be working on any PC in the world. Digit | August 2009 | www. This is all thanks to the upcoming virtual gaming concept such as On Live. for example. and Javascript. But at the same time. There are even communities based around this sort of open source activities where people discuss building new internet threats together. Feature But. yea. no matter what hardware is present. there’s still time for that. that’s a good example of what I’m talking about. but can I offer you Quake 3 Arena instead? You’re right about one thing. I need some time to play games. You will see changes. you got me stumped on that for now. that works well on Linux too. CSS.