In which we point out the value of critical thinking

An opinion piece in Design News by Dan O’Dowd asserts, rather blindly, that Linux and open source software represents a national security risk when used in critical applications because some of the code comes from foreign programmers who might slip in some sort of trojan horse that goes undetected until it’s too late.

Leaving aside just exactly how unlikely this is — code is examined by maintainers pretty rigorously, and the sheer number of eyes involved, not to mention testing, strongly suggests that such a backdoor wouldn’t make it to official releases — let’s examine who O’Dowd is, and what he may have at stake here.

Actually, we don’t even have to look far: the article bills him as the CEO of a company called Green Hills Software which makes — wait for it — embedded systems software, an area where Linux is making substantial inroads. We trust that this makes clear precisely how trustworth Mr. O’Dowd is on this point.

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