Video: History of GNU, Linux and Free Software Movements

Posted on in Categories GNU/Open source, Links, Linux, Linux Video, UNIX, Windows last updated January 10, 2008

This is an interesting documentary video which traces the history of GNU, Linux, and the open source and free software movements. It features several interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneurs (and hackers-cum-entrepreneurs), including Richard Stallman, Michael Tiemann, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, Frank Hecker and Brian Behlendorf.

The film begins in medias res with an IPO, and then sets the historical stage by showing the beginnings of software development back in the day when software was shared on paper tape for the price of the paper itself. It then segues to Bill Gates’s Open Letter to Hobbyists in which he asks Computer Hobbyists to not share, but to buy software. (This letter was written by Gates when Microsoft was still based in Arizona and spelled “Micro-Soft”.) Richard Stallman then explains how and why he left the MIT Lab for Artificial Intelligence in order to devote his life to the development of free software, as well as how he started with the GNU project.

(Note: There is a video embedded within this post, please visit the site to view the video – Time: 1 hr 25 min 9 sec)

Linus Torvalds is interviewed on his development of the Linux kernel as well as on the GNU/Linux naming controversy and Linux’s further evolution, including its commercialization.

Richard Stallman remarks on some of the ideological aspects of open source vis-á-vis Communism and capitalism and well as on several aspects of the development of GNU/Linux.

Michael Tiemann (interviewed in a desert) tells how he met Stallman and got an early version of Stallman’s GCC and founded Cygnus Solutions.

Larry Augustin tells how he combined the resulting GNU software and a normal PC to create a UNIX-like Workstation which cost one third the price of a workstation by Sun Microsystems even though it was three times as powerful. His narrative includes his early dealings with venture capitalists, the eventual capitalization and commodification of Linux for his own company, VA Linux, and ends with its IPO.

Frank Hecker of Netscape tells how Netscape executives released the source code for Netscape’s browser, one of the signal events which made Open Source a force to be reckoned with by business executives, the mainstream media, and the public at large.

PS: You can download video from Google Video for Apple iPOD here.

Coverity Scan: Security Holes Found in Open Source Projects

Posted on in Categories Links, News, Open source coding, php, programming, Security last updated January 9, 2008
Coverity Logo

Coverity is a company that creates tools for software development. Its premiere product is Prevent, a static-analysis code inspection tool. Coverity offers the results of Prevent’s analysis for free to open source developers.

From the project home page:

In collaboration with Stanford University, Coverity is establishing a new baseline for software quality and security in open source. Under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security, we apply the latest innovations in automated defect detection to uncover some of the most critical types of bugs found in software.

So the most notable use of Prevent is under a U.S. Department of Homeland Security contract, in which it is used to examine over 150 open source applications for bugs. Popular open source projects, such as Samba, the PHP, Perl, and Tcl dynamic languages used to bind together elements of Web sites, and Amanda, the popular open source backup and recovery software running on half a million servers, were all found to have dozens or hundreds of security exposures and quality defects.

For example, over 75% of the defects Scan identified in Samba were fixed within two reviews of the Scan analysis.
Over 75% of the defects Scan identified in Samba were fixed within two reviews of the Scan analysis.
(Fig. 01: Samba Project Code Scan Result)

=> More information about project and bugs (including charts) available at offical web site.

A total of 7,826 open source project defects have been fixed through the Homeland Security review, or one every two hours since it was launched in 2006, according to David Maxwell, open source strategist for Coverity, maker of the source code checking system, the Prevent Software Quality System, that’s being used in the review.

This project is really helping out to improve overall open source software quality.