"open box" (Peter Neumann)
Posted Nov 21, 2007 17:18 UTC (Wed) by dwheeler
In reply to: 'closed source'
Parent article: Fingerprint recognition using fprint
Peter Neumann has recommended the term "open box" to mean "it's possible to look at the source code". All publicly-released open source software is "open box", but so are many proprietary programs.
A complicating factor is that some proprietary programs' software is available for viewing, but only under certain very restrictive licenses or only to certain parties. Microsoft allows various governments to view Windows software; not only is it proprietary, but NOT everyone is allowed to view it. Is that "open box"? It is to those allowed to look at it... but you're certainly not going to get the widespread review that software viewable to EVERYONE will get, and so using the term "open box" in such cases is misleading. Which may be why the term hasn't been very common.
"Shared source" is just a Microsoft marketing label. It means that Microsoft has SOME mechanism to give you source code, under SOME license. Some of those licenses are OSS, some are proprietary.
It would be misleading to think that "open box" for proprietary software and "open source software" are likely to have the same results.
Non-open-source-software has an economic problem with encouraging review: If you can't freely modify or copy it, others have a lot less incentive to DO this review. (I.E., "Why should I be your unpaid advisor?") So even if the source code is viewable to all, you're less likely to get the deep review if it's not OSS. OSS isn't always well-reviewed either, but at least the POTENTIAL is there and the economics are better-aligned toward widespread review.
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