Why proprietary software causes viruses

Francois-Rene Rideau fare@tunes.org
Sun, 11 Jul 1999 22:46:56 +0200

Here are 4 reasons why viruses hit proprietary software systems,
and not free software systems:

   the fact that documents meant to be printed are allowed
   to erase your harddisk without notice is just scary.
   Auto-exec features are evil.
   Auto-exec features without even a sandbox is suicidal.
   Using Losedoze or MockAss is suicidal.
   Now, backward binary compatibility, that dreaded constraint
   of closed-source proprietary systems,
   means that there is no way for the vendor to go back,
   and no way for third parties to fix the problem either.

(2) USER-BASED PROTECTION SYSTEM -- strongly limits virus propagation.
   because users cannot change the system executables,
   or other users' executables, viruses have a hard time propagating
   and infecting system services due to the sole ignorance of lusers,
   as is the case under Losedoze or MockAss.
   The latter desktop proprietary caricatures of operating systems
   might try to retrofit concepts of users in their system,
   they cannot do it properly, because again,
   backward compatibility prevents that.
   Worse even, the software distribution system with license-based payment
   means that software _will_ have to be installed by uneducated users,
   and that the system will thus include software hooks for such installations.

(3) HETEROGENEITY make free software unices a much less fragile group
   of systems than the world-wide homogeneous micros~1 losedow$+orifice
   set of machines: in monocultures, infections become epidemies.
   Proprietary software not only prevents innovation and enhancements
   that make software live and grow a sane risk-averting heterogeneity;
   it also induces monopolies through network effects, because
   you can only communicate with people with exact same proprietary software,
   and that once you paid license for one,
   you'd rather no pay for another one.

(4) last but not least, RIGHT TO FREELY COPY means that people
   can get software directly from a safe source, rather than pass
   one user to the next "pirated" copies of executable programs.
   That is, in that lively heterogenous mold, you can trust the
   programs you use. And since anyone can repackage things,
   there is the opportunity for a free market of trusted distributions
   of programs, in case there otherwise be trust problems.

The computing world is ill. The disease is proprietary software.

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