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Interactive Week/Yahoo!: Make Way For The Little OS That Could

Aug 27, 2001, 20:18 (19 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rob Fixmer)
"As I escorted him to the elevator after an interview in 1998, Gordon Eubanks, then president and CEO of Symantec, (NASDAQ:SYMC) made a casual observation that forever changed my perspective on open source software. At a time when the world's No. 2 computer security company realized almost all its revenue by protecting machines running Microsoft and IBM/Lotus Development platforms, Eubanks noted that open source was inherently easier to protect than proprietary software.

Using Linux as an example, he said, "Everybody can see what's under the hood, so we're on equal footing with hackers. With proprietary systems, intruders often have illegal means of learning things about the underlying code that are superior to the legal information at our disposal - even though we get excellent cooperation and support from Microsoft."

At the time, Symantec was only beginning to explore the Linux market, so Eubanks' remarks registered as something of a personal epiphany for me. For the first time, I found myself entertaining the notion that open source might actually threaten Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. The fact that Linux was free didn't impress me, but here was a value proposition that money couldn't buy - an increasingly stable operating system (OS) that was less prone to security vulnerabilities in the first place, because so many interested parties were examining it continuously, and that now seemed easier for developers to secure."

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