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'closed source'

'closed source'

Posted Nov 21, 2007 12:00 UTC (Wed) by epa (subscriber, #39769)
Parent article: Fingerprint recognition using fprint

When you say 'closed source' do you mean that you can look at the source code, but it's not
open to share and change it - or do you mean that the source code is not public at all - or
the union of those two conditions (in other words anything that is not open source).

I think it would be better to avoid this term and if you want to say 'not open source', say
that.  If you mean proprietary software, say that.  If you mean software that has source code
available but is not open source... well, there's no good term for that and you have to be

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Posted Nov 21, 2007 13:28 UTC (Wed) by hummassa (subscriber, #307) [Link]

F/OSS = Free and/or Open Source software
shared source = source is available but software is proprietary (non-Free)
closed source = obvious


Posted Nov 21, 2007 14:21 UTC (Wed) by epa (subscriber, #39769) [Link]

I think 'shared source' is an even more confusing term than 'closed source', perhaps
deliberately confusing, coined by Microsoft in an attempt to sound close enough to open source
and muddy the waters.


Posted Nov 21, 2007 16:10 UTC (Wed) by JoeBuck (guest, #2330) [Link]

While Microsoft's term is confusing, they certainly didn't invent the "source is available to licensees" concept, which is practically as old as computing.


Posted Nov 22, 2007 8:51 UTC (Thu) by Cato (subscriber, #7643) [Link]

I usually use 'source available', which has some usage in the industry where source is
provided to customers but cannot be redistributed, instead of 'shared source' which is a
marketing term invented by Microsoft.  F/OSS ('open source') and closed source are quite clear
as the other key terms.

"open box" (Peter Neumann)

Posted Nov 21, 2007 17:18 UTC (Wed) by dwheeler (guest, #1216) [Link]

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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