Networks & vendor upgrades/fixes


Barry Shein (bzs@bu-cs.bu.edu)
Sun, 22 Nov 87 16:36:19 EST


>Distributing source code seems to be inconsistent with the desire to enforce
>version controls. The availability of source code seems to be an attraction
>to the "tinkerer" much like a flame is to a moth--one's version control be-
>comes a historical artifact when the "tinkerer" gets access to the code.
>
>If the source is distributed on a media other than electronic as "documentat-
>tion", it is extremely useful and it is relatively easy to maintain version
>control of the software.
>
>Merton Campbell Crockett

There are certainly better ways to do version control than to withold
the sources. I've heard this argument for years and I still don't
believe that the solution is OCO distributions, I don't even believe
this is ever the real reason (vague fears of losing the technology are
probably the real reason, either de facto [falling into a competitor's
hands] or de jure [a court deciding you gave away the store], some of
these fears have no rational basis, some do, but the conservative
choice is obvious (even if it loses sales?!))

For example, one could simply demand, as with all warrantees, that
software will not be maintained if monkeyed with (tho patches could be
supplied everyone and they can do what they like with them.) To settle
disputes it would be easy enough to provide a simple checksum program
on the source. Whatever, but witholding the source has to be the worst
possible solution to this (undisputed) problem. One thing I hate is
vendors who won't even sell any source support (that is, you don't get
the source patches for minor releases, so either you live with the
bugs, obsolete your sources or guess how to fix the problem.)

Vendors could also get more aggressive about these problems instead of
sitting around getting into trouble (I have no doubt they do with
large customers who get the sources, tinker, then demand support
anyhow, money talks...)

Usually when I get a source release I pays my money and that's that, a
tape shows up, even if I already have maintenance on the software. I
could see being asked to sign something which clearly states the new
responsibilities now that you have sources. Heck, to trade options on
the CBOE you have to sign a form acknowledging your lack of good sense.

Seriously, how do you know they haven't mucked with the rest of the
O/S, binary patched your sw, etc. Same problem.

Microfiched source is not the answer either, unless you get some sort
of satisfaction at merely looking at the buggy code that's bringing
your system to its knees. Blechh.

        -Barry Shein, Boston University



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