Re: Results of last night's SV OVC meeting

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Thu Apr 28 2005 - 12:46:55 CDT

On Apr 28, 2005, at 10:54 AM, JamBoi wrote:
> 8) Agreed that there were many positive reasons to lean towards a Java
> cross platform solution. Spoke about the positive aspects of python
> and wxWorks also.

Overall, this meeting sounds like it was great.

On this one point, I would STRONGLY urge against basing a system on
proprietary, unfree software like Java. The recent fiasco with
BitKeeper and Linux provides a particularly poignant example of the
dangers of using unfree software, motivated by narrowly technical
grounds. It can REALLY come back to bite you. And this danger is even
greater, IMO, for voting systems than it was for the Linux kernel. On
the one hand, Sun is no friend of freedom, and have been known to be
litigious. On the other hand, the very fact that voting is so strongly
in the public interest, and so frequently a matter of contest and court
actions, makes the downside of entanglement with unfree software that
much greater.

Just one example among hundreds: what if an (apparently) losing
candidate demands an audit of the software, including the
language/libraries?! Getting source code out of Sun becomes a really
tricky and thorny legal entanglement that can threaten the integrity
and accuracy of elections.

Now it *is* true that I like Python on technical merits. Who knows,
its use might even sell a couple extra copies of my book :-). But that
matter is tertiary, at most. If SV OVC (or whoever) like Ruby, or
Perl, or GCC, or Guile, or Haskell... the more power to them (as long
as they use Free Software versions of each thing). If anyone really
wants to know, I'll tell you why Python is better to program in: but
that religious dispute should go in a different thread.

Your, David...

If I seem shortsighted to you, it is only because I have stood on the
backs of midgets.

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Received on Sat Apr 30 23:17:19 2005

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