[plug] FOSS condemned for data archival - don't let it go unchallenged

Andrew Cowie andrew at operationaldynamics.com
Sat Dec 22 23:07:18 WST 2007

On Sat, 2007-12-22 at 21:31 +0900, Richard Meyer wrote:
> bitrot AFAIK is the physical degradation of backup media

The term bitrot has come into common use [even if as slang] by
professional programmers to refer to anything that was written some time
ago and which has not been actively kept current and the steadily
increasing maintenance burden that will accrue as a result.

Just working on something else for a couple months is sufficient for the
original project to start fading as its dependencies continue to evolve.

Which in turn is why maintaining a Linux distribution (say) is an
enormous piece of work - you have to keep up with every permutation of
every non-backwards compatible evolution in every piece of software you

The proprietary software world deals with this too, of course, but you
tend to find people linking against and shipping fixed versions of
dependencies and never upgrading them, thus avoiding things sliding out
from under them. That's fine and dandy, until someone _has_ to upgrade
(security fix, say) and then they're screwed [ask anyone who works in
carrier-grade equipment engineering or operations in a the telco].

On the whole, by dealing with this constant change pressure as an ever
present factor of their environment, the Open Source world has developed
far better coping skills and actually does a damn good job of dealing
with this.


Andrew Frederick Cowie

We are an operations engineering consultancy focusing on strategy,
organizational architecture, systems review, and change management
procedures: enabling successful use of open source in mission
critical enterprises, worldwide.


Sydney   New York   Toronto   London
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