Sunday, December 21, 2014

What Difference Does it Make if I Use Chrome vs. Firefox?

Free Mozilla Firefox Open Source Web Browser

What difference does it make if I use Chrome vs. Firefox?


Transparency, as used in science, engineering, business, the humanities and in a social context more generally, implies openness, communication, and accountability. Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. It has been defined simply as "the perceived quality of intentionally shared information from a sender". For example, a cashier making change after a point of sale transaction by offering a record of the items purchased (e.g., a receipt) as well as counting out the customer's change on the counter demonstrates transparency.

Google chose to make Chrome, as distinguished from its open source counterpart Chromium, proprietary, non-open source.  Their decision to exclude public access to the software's code was intentional and designed to place the end-user at a 'disadvantage'.

Should the public have a right to participate in oversight of software's source code that runs on their personal computers?  The answer is an emphatic yes.

If an end-user chooses proprietary solutions, they leave themselves open to exploitation in some fashion.  The licensing terms restrict, the true functionality of the software cannot be vetted as being devoid of 'rogue code' or having hidden unmaintained software defects which, if unpatched, could leave said software in a vulnerable state.

Global Crime Rings find defects and then sell exploit kits on the black market for as yet unpatched 'Zero Day Exploits'.  The likelihood that an unpatched software defect will remain unnoticed increases when using proprietary software.

Most often Linux open source is updated with a downloadable patch within a matter of hours of discovery.  If on the other hand the end-user is running Microsoft Windows Legacy, a patch may never come if the vulnerability remains hidden, unnoticed by Microsoft programming staff, or, at best will be corrected on 'Patch Tuesday', once a month by Microsoft.

The point I hope readers get from this post is this:  

With open source code maintenance, it is difficult at best for an exploitable software 'bug' to go unnoticed for an extended period of time, and it is near-impossible to merge 'rogue code' into a developer team's git repo tree which gets reviewed by many peers around the globe.

The World can and will thrive if we all share, each and every one of us.  It is our human nature to do so.  Without sharing, we will continue to see great exploitation by proprietary business and government which results in human inequality and suffering.

Make a statement which is powerful.  Demand openness.

Insist on and be selective by using only open source software.

Open Source and free Firefox can be downloaded here.  -- Dietrich


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