Pandora And Open Source Vs Closed Source


b._.o._.b

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Because of the wifi capabilities of Pandora, I think it it more important that software is open source on the Pandora than on the GP2X.

I'm not a big fan of freeware because you never know what kind of surprises are included in the code. Not really bothered me on the GP2X, but I think I will stay away from closed source code on the Pandora.

Am I being paranoid?
 

Prophet

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Interesting thought.

As for you being paranoid - I hope so! ;)

What I mean is, I hope we never have any real security issues with Pandora. I doubt we will - but I've learned not to say "never" about anything.

Most security issues are motivated by criminals looking for ways to make money, or bored code-kiddies looking for laughs. You find more money and more laughs at the other end of Windows PC's than any other platform, so that's generally where the security holes get dug.

A little Linux based game/UMPC device... doubtful.
 

b._.o._.b

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Maybe I'd like to use my Pandora as a diary or manage some on-line financial transactions. Don't like the idea someone is looking over my shoulders.
 

Shiny

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Even if the application is open source, one could just remove the parts that they don't want you to see from the source files.

Not that I'd do this or anything...

Most people wouldn't go through the trouble to do this anyways and as long as you stick to only releases from well known devs, you should be safe. I'm not making any promises, but it seems like a fair assumption.

I am not saying that new devs aren't as trustworthy as well established ones, but having a few releases under your belt, so to say, sure helps to build trust between you and your users.
 

b._.o._.b

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Shiny said:
Even if the application is open source, one could just remove the parts that they don't want you to see from the source files.

Not that I'd do this or anything...

Most people wouldn't go through the trouble to do this anyways and as long as you stick to only releases from well known devs, you should be safe. I'm not making any promises, but it seems like a fair assumption.

I am not saying that new devs aren't as trustworthy as well established ones, but having a few releases under your belt, so to say, sure helps to build trust between you and your users.
I doubt open source applications will be adjusted, that would be noticed rather fast I guess, but maybe I'm wrong. Assuming every developer is mentally sane and hasn't got any other motives than doing good for mankind is a bit naive imo.
 
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hrsimoes

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Shiny said:
Even if the application is open source, one could just remove the parts that they don't want you to see from the source files.
If you have the source code for a pandora application, it will be easy to check whether the available binary matches the compiled version.
(If they don't, the dev would have a lot of explaining to do to ever regain trust.)
So I think this quote of Shiny won't be an issue.

However, if you are into paranoia stuff you should not read the following: Reflections on trusting trust
It basically means that having (and even understanding) the source code is not enough to guarantee that a program is not misbehaved (*scary*).
Everybody in the chain, from hardware to software developers, would have to be trusted.
100% security on any device? I don't think so!
 
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Squidge

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b_o_b said:
Because of the wifi capabilities of Pandora, I think it it more important that software is open source on the Pandora than on the GP2X.

I'm not a big fan of freeware because you never know what kind of surprises are included in the code. Not really bothered me on the GP2X, but I think I will stay away from closed source code on the Pandora.
Well, thats your choice, but it's going to be time consuming to audit the source code of every applications you want to install, figure out how to get it compiled and then install it. No point just installing the binaries of open source software, as someone could distribute a binary thats different to the released source code, and you can't just compile and install just in case there are some easter eggs in there.

So yes, maybe you are being a little paranoid. If you want to use the Pandora as a diary, or store other sensitive data on there, maybe you should store that data in an encrypted file that you only open when you want to use the contents. That way, you can use the emulators and games without fear of them uploading some of your sensitive data to the 'net (but you may want to power cycle your Pandora first to ensure no sensitive data is held in ram before you run those applications).

QUOTE
If you have the source code for a pandora application, it will be easy to check whether the available binary matches the compiled version.
(If they don't, the dev would have a lot of explaining to do to ever regain trust.)


Unfortunately, it's incredibly easy to create a binary that differs from a binary produced by someone else. The developer normally only gives you the source code to there application. If someone else compiled the code with a different version of the compiler, or different versions of statically linked libraries for example, it could change the resulting binary substantially. Questioning them as to why there binary is different to a version you created yourself may simply alienate them to the point where they stop releasing stuff to the public.
 
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pder

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I think the security issue is a very valid point, and I would also be very wary of running any sort of untrusted binary on a machine that has wifi capablities such as the Pandora.

Besides the security issue I also would shy away from anything that is closed source for the simple reason that a project can die whenever the developer loses interest in the project, loses the source code, or disappears from the scene.

Thankfully, judging by the fact that almost everything worthwhile on the gp2x is open source (with the exception being some of the commercial games) I can't imagine it being any different for the Pandora.
 

skeezix

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Open source has little to do with secureity; number of eyeballs on the source can. (ie: Remember, most open source projects have zero or one developer; very few hit critical mass.)

Something like Apache.. sure, bugs will get found and fixed _Fast_. (And likely much faster than a closed source app.)

But this is nto true for 90% of apps :)

Hopefully the community for pandora is similar to the gp32 and gp2x ones, with a spirit of code sharing and open source; but certainly closed source shoujld be welcome too -- its the only way to have a healthy system, to be friendly to all comers. (ie: You generally cannot make a buck selling open source on a handheld.. and if you wish to encourage some high quality commercial, there you go.)

*Shrug*

jeff
 

Alex.

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I really hope this fear will die off before it gains any momentum. I mean, you might as well start worrying about malicious games that could wipe/corrupt your NAND and SD cards while you're at it. The 'trusted devs' part doesn't sound quite right either, is this community supposed to grow in all directions or what?

If you're worried about compromising sensitive data on a handheld, then simply don't use it for banking or other such things. If you've managed those things without it until now, you'll manage without it from now on too.
 

b._.o._.b

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@Alex and other devs, don't take this personal. I don't believe any of this will happen on the Pandora, but security is an important thing especially when you want to sell the Pandora for more serious purposes (PDA, wifi, password storage, personal documents).

Maybe there could be made a repository of software with some quality assurance, where you can download the 'official' and checked software. That should be the trusted software and other repositories are your own risk.
I like the idea of encrypting, so would be nice to see some encrypting tools out of the box available as well.

You can bury your head in the sand, and deny it could ever be a problem or take some precautions.I prefer the latter.
 

Vilmos

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The only way you will have 100% security is to never turn the device on.

You aren't going to influence devs with this paranoia, they will just label you a crank and get on with their hobby.
 

skeezix

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b_o_b -- the trick there is .. if you can't do it for Windows with a lot of huge budgets, its probably harder to do on a small scale device.

That said.. user reviews ftw! If everyone else likes it, its probably okay.

This is just paranoid though; open source or not, you can easily hide mal code in there. But its a small community, so pretty low chance of it.. but no way to top it on any platform.

jeff
 

Squidge

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I don't think there's much likelihood of trojan-horse type programs on the Pandora, but naturally, you should be Very Careful with programs which talk on the internet. For example, web browsers, rss readers, mail readers/senders. Basically, things that could talk to a non-reliable host and suffer from buffer overflows and such. I'm sure I don't have to remind people about the number of privacy and security vulnerabilities in pretty much every web browser out there - sure they get fixed, but there is less likelihood of the programs getting updated on a handheld device, specially if they have been ported to that device.

I'd personally be very cautious about logging into my bank account with a Pandora for example (I know Windows is not that much better, but with the amount of people trying to hack into it comes the amount of people fixing the holes, and you just seem to have more control.).

Hey, maybe we should port WinCE to the device ;)
 

b._.o._.b

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skeezix said:
b_o_b -- the trick there is .. if you can't do it for Windows with a lot of huge budgets, its probably harder to do on a small scale device.

That said.. user reviews ftw! If everyone else likes it, its probably okay.

This is just paranoid though; open source or not, you can easily hide mal code in there. But its a small community, so pretty low chance of it.. but no way to top it on any platform.

jeff
You're right, it is impossible to be 100% secure. It will be one of the things reviewers of the Pandora will take look at, especially more serious /magazines.
There are lots of articles on the internet regarding security and pda's or handhelds. The Pandora will be more than only a gaming device and there will be questions about the security for sure whenever it is launched.

The software base for the Pandora will be pretty small I guess, and a lot of the open source software that will be used is already pretty stable and secure. So it shouldn't be too hard to make it secure and reliable. It will be interesting to hear what Craigix view is on this subject.

Squidge said:
I'd personally be very cautious about logging into my bank account with a Pandora for example (I know Windows is not that much better, but with the amount of people trying to hack into it comes the amount of people fixing the holes, and you just seem to have more control.).
I'm using Ubuntu for this purpose, with Firefox. Even though probably not 100% secure, it feels secure enough.
 
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timofonic

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Pandora uses Linux and Linux is user in internet servers mostly. I think because of that security problems are a lot lower on Linux than most desktop OSes and the ones that appear are fixed quite fast (but distros with feature frozen can't enjoy this, so only distros like Gentoo or Arch Linux using the buildpkgs enjoy this).

Another thing is security apps concerned to certain apps, that always a problem. Apps like Firefox suffer security problems but those are solved quite fastly.
 

hrsimoes

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Squidge said:
QUOTE
If you have the source code for a pandora application, it will be easy to check whether the available binary matches the compiled version.
(If they don't, the dev would have a lot of explaining to do to ever regain trust.)

Unfortunately, it's incredibly easy to create a binary that differs from a binary produced by someone else. The developer normally only gives you the source code to there application. If someone else compiled the code with a different version of the compiler, or different versions of statically linked libraries for example, it could change the resulting binary substantially. Questioning them as to why there binary is different to a version you created yourself may simply alienate them to the point where they stop releasing stuff to the public.

My mistake. You are absolutely right.
Thanks for pointing that out.
 
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JakeK

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With this repositry that has been suggested for Pandora software security risks will most likely be non-existant. It is like downloading skins for Counter Strike, the best place is to download it from FPSBanana, a secure and well known skins database. Where as if you just download skins off of random websites you run the risk of trojans, installation of hacks and other malicious software.
 
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Squidge said:
Hey, maybe we should port WinCE to the device ;)
Heh.. WinCe..

all joking aside thank the techno gods for not putting wince on this... This probably jump the price up another $100-$150. Debian FTW and Wince FTL!
 
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