Other Myths about Linux and Open Source Software

One can very often hear many myths or generally accepted "truths" about open source software and Linux, some of which negative and other positive. Examples include:

1. Open source software is less secure than software whose source code is not revealed, because people can find bugs at it by looking at the code.

2. Open source software is more secure than closed-source software because more people can review the code and discover bugs in it.

3. Linux is harder to use than Windows.

4. Linux is not compatible with Windows.

5. Open source gives way to forking more easily.

And many others. The Linux Myth Dispeller attempted to answer some of these, with a focus on negative myths. Myth #1 is completely false as bugs can still be found by analyzing the disassembly of the machine code. Also often such bugs are found by accident due to a certain valid use of the software) There were many closed-source packages out there in which many bugs have already been discovered. (like Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft IIS or Microsoft Internet Explorer). Some of these already became widely exploited a long time before a vendor patch was made available.

Myth #2 has a grain of truth in it. However, some open source packages nevertheless had very poor security records out of poor programming practices. Some closed-source offerings, on the other hand, have a very good security record. In most packages, security bugs occurred due to sloppy programming practice or lack of auditing of the code. They can be mostly avoided whether or not the package's source code is available to the public.

Myth #5 is not entirely true. While it is possible to fork a piece of open-source software, most packages were not effectively forked. Eric Raymond covers the customs that relate to forking a package in "Homesteading the Noosphere", and Rick Moen explains why when major packages forked, it was not necessarily a bad thing in his "Fear of Forking essay".

Moreover, many times proprietary software was forked as well. There are many flavours of System V UNIX out there, and there used to be many more. Microsoft released three different lines of Windows flavours with two or more simultaneously, and has many localised versions. (Which are many times incompatible with one another.)