Open Efficiency

I encountered an case in the office today where a co-worker recommended that we do not check code into our source code management system because it is accessible company wide. Obviously, this is a legal, ethical and moral issue.

However, this highlighted a problem with closed-source development. With open-source development, this would be a non-issue. The code is supposed to be publicly available anyway. So, the only ACL practices are there to control who can clobber the code if they wish to.

Personally, I think that even implementing ACL on our code repository would not fix the issue. Instead of anyone company-wide being able to steal the code, anyone in our team can do so. So, the ethical, legal and moral issues are still an issue. The whole idea of using a code repository is so that others can share the code. So, at some point, other people can ‘steal’ the code if they wish to.

The only true solution to this problem is to open-source the code. However, working in a closed-source company means that I would not be able to push this through. Everyone would just look at me in an odd way if I ever suggested it.

The trouble is that with this issue, some people may be hesitant on checking in their code. This would just screw up our development process.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

2 thoughts on “Open Efficiency”

  1. i guess its different in terms of belief. Personally i believe in patents in protecting IPs.

    And i guess the last thing you want is that all your IP is shared out before your product is even launch

  2. This isn’t a question of belief (i.e religion). It is a demonstrable fact. I’ll draw an analogy from online security.

    Open source is like public key cryptography. You can happily share the key publicly, knowing full well that the message is still secure. Trust is placed in the secure algorithms, not the key.

    Closed source is like private key cryptography. Once the key (source code) is leaked, it’s like being stripped naked. Even if the same secure algorithms are used, the trust was placed in the key, not the algorithms.

    But for some reason, people still think that hiding something is true security. When in actual fact, true security is when you can display things fully in the public and people still cannot steal it.

    There is a reason why public key crypto is used to secure online banking and not private key crypto.

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