[Linux-aus] Open Source Monoculture
bradh at frogmouth.net
Tue Feb 17 16:18:02 UTC 2004
On Tue, 17 Feb 2004 09:52 am, Arjen Lentz wrote:
> First let us define where the term "monoculture" comes from, and what it
> means... I personally think the use of this terminology for software is
> somewhat odd. For reference:
<interesting stuff snipped>
I have a slightly different view of the problem (and I grew up on a large
wheat/sheep farm in WA - no jokes about that, thanks). Monocultures in
farming tend to either produce reasonable results, or suffer catastrophic
failures. Monoculture isn't necessarily a long term thing though - growing
your whole farm in peas one year and wheat the next is still a monoculture.
The failures tend to come from explosive growth in pest populations (eg
locusts) or from natural disasters (fire, flood, hail). An agricultural
polyculture (characterised by mixed trees, various crops in different stages
of development, animals, people, small plots - as you see in subsistence
living and more modern permaculture environments) tends to have moderating
influences for those things, and catastrophic failures are rarer.
In regard to jdub's original questions, I think that FOSS deployments in the
server arena are tending to "a number of minor variations on a single theme".
Those minor variations may not be enough to provide the resilence we need to
a truly major failure (case: breakins on a number of our major sites - Debian
and Savannah). The desktop variation is greater, but there are still a number
of key shared vulnerabilities (eg a buffer overflow on libxml2 or libxslt
would be bad for both Gnome and KDE). In terms of total vulnerability, any
variation is likely to help though.
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