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OpenSolaris [Update]

A lot of hype is going on lately about OpenSolaris. Here's a short summary (mixed with some stupid comments from me) for those who missed the news until now.

  • Although the license (the CDDL) has been OSI-approved, it's not exactly a license I'd consider free. It's especially not GPL-compatible, it seems.
  • The usual grep "idiot" * in the source code and similar searches (which do reveal some hits, although the code was cleaned before the release), are being discussed on Slashdot and elsewhere. My personal favourite is this comment in the code:
    Thank God nobody's looking at this comment, or my reputation would be ruined.
    Bad luck for this guy.
    Lessons learned: Always write your code and comments as if the whole world could read them, because one day that might be the case.
  • Jörg Schilling is preparing SchilliX, an OpenSolaris distribution and LiveCD.
  • A small analysis of the code, performed by me using David Wheeler's sloccount:
    The whole source contains ca. 4.1 million lines of code (MLOC), spread across ca. 24.000 files. (OpenSolaris ships with a complete Perl distribution in the tarball. I removed that before the analysis).
    Compare this to Linux: ca. 4.2 MLOC (Linux in 18.000 files.
  • Rumours about a Debian GNU/OpenSolaris seem to float around. The license might be a problem, I guess. We'll see...

Update: The above quote is from the GRUB source code (included in OpenSolaris), not from the original OpenSolaris code. Thanks for the corrections. Also, Linux has 4.2 MLOC, not 4.2 LOC (yay, I spotted that one myself ;-).

Write Down Your Passwords - The Right Way

Hm. Bruce Schneier and Microsoft's Jesper Johansson tell us to write down our passwords.

That may sound like a stupid idea, and many years lots of security-minded people tried to educate users not to do that. But I think they have a point. Someone who uses the Internet regularly accumulates a whole bunch of accounts and passwords for all sorts of sites, servers etc. It's simply too hard to remember all of them. Thus far I agree.

But, I don't think writing down passwords on small pieces of paper and carrying those around in your wallet is a particularly good idea. It happens too easy that you lose your wallet, it gets stolen, or you lose the pieces of paper. Not to mention all kinds of social engineering activities, which are simplified a lot by this approach...

I do propose to write your passwords down. But do it in a computer file on a box where you're the only one with an account (your home PC or laptop). Encrypt that file with GnuPG and your're reasonably safe. Every time you need a password, decrypt the file, read and use the password, then wipe the decrypted plain-text file.

No more pieces of paper - help save the environment.

Comments Broken

I somehow managed to break the comment submission feature, i.e. nobody could post comments here. Should be fixed again now. If you posted a comment and it didn't appear on the site until now, it was lost. Please resubmit.

Sorry for the mess.

Free Software and Motivation

Thomas Breitner has released his (German) thesis "Freie Software - Motivation und Engagement" which examines the motives of Free Software developers for working on Free Software.

It features a good historical introduction of the Free Software movement in general and discusses topics such as geeks, nerds, hacking etc. The main part is about the social aspects, though, especially motivation and commitment in the Free Software community.

The results of four interviews with famous Free Software developers are a major part of the thesis. There developers are:

I'm through half of the thesis now and really recommend reading it, as it gives some interesting insights into the social aspects of Free Software development.

(via Harald Welte's blog)

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