Do Linux users actually read the source code?


Do Linux users actually read the source code? Do they modify it? If they don’t, how is open source and Free Software different from closed source?

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21 thoughts on “Do Linux users actually read the source code?

  1. what's most important to me is that if code is opened, chances are it has been vetted by at least one person, and that person, while maybe not able to turn it into fast, stable code, can at least ensure it is safe, that it isn't farming your data to random companies and governments, that it isn't malware. So even if I never read a single line of code in my life, I still benefit from code being open source when I use it.

  2. I read the source code for my OS, not all of it, but the parts that are most important to me. I just don't have the mental resources to go through all of it. I've written some code, and made modifications to the source of some of the software on my system. Only minor things, but had my stuff been closed source, it would have restricted me from making those minor, but necessary for my use case, changes.

  3. I don't read the source code as I don't have the skills to understand it. My only coding these days is in VBA for MS office macros and that is not at all comparable with coding for software. And my past experience my Commodore 64 basic and Borland Turbo Pascal never went that deep anyway.

  4. I would say most don't. As a Linux user who isn't a software developer I probably couldn't understand the code anyway. I trust Linux much more than other operating systems because it is open. An that is good enough for me.

  5. It's not just about doing your own oil change, It's about control!
    As it stands we don't have to use Github. The trick is in getting enough developers to understand what is truly going on. The 'humanist' stance from Github / Microsoft isn't about saving the poor migrants. It's about using those people as a shield for their true motives. 🐸

  6. I don't think that making cosmetic changes to open source projects like changing colours, font, menu text, count as a change, because they're analogous to the settings menu of closed source software. Some even ship with config.h files to make things even easier.

  7. As an Android developer, this question is… complicated.

    I have done extensive binary modifications using smali/baksmali.
    I fixed major bugs in LG's Linux kernel source for the LG Optimus S.
    I rewrote the touchscreen driver for the original Nexus 7 to be Type A instead of Type B.
    I took ClockworkMod 5 and added on Amend scripting (which was dropped in like CWM 3) to support both Froyo and Gingerbread ROMs on the Optimus S, and I also added touchscreen support and a rather powerful theme engine.

    But have I ever read 100% of the source for any of the above? Nope.

  8. yes, but not directly, for example, I've modified 3rd-party add-ons for Blender.

    and for my developer experience, I'm 100% self-taught (had a little help from others)
    extent? inventing private variables for python

    random noob: but I read python already has private variables…
    me: no it doesn't, see below.

    class A(object):

    …._slots_ = [ '__not_private' ]
    ….def __init__(a,v): a.__not_private = v

    >>> a = A( 'told ya' )
    >>> a._A__not_private # security through obscurity never works
    'told ya'

    if __not_private was private, a._A__not_private would raise an AttributeError
    I've written a metaclass that actually delivers private variables through frame validation, but since it's written in python, it has an unpatchable exploit since python doesn't understand the meaning of privacy.

  9. Personally I don't read the source code as coding is my Achilles Heel but its availability is very reassuring to me as I know that eventually better eyes than mine will read it and assure it is safe.
    This is one of the main reasons I use and trust Linux.

  10. What's your thumbnail from, running man?

    And I would argue that even though I personally don't read source. It's available for someone else and I'd rather the option existing and go unused in that instance, rather than no option. Otherwise we're all apple drones.

  11. I would have probably answered no if I had seen this poll since you said the code had to functionally change. I have read through source code and modified labels on button and done other types of customizations (to mess with friends mostly) but I wouldn't consider that to be a functional change… but I have modified the source code.

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