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Author Topic: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining  (Read 4004 times)

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Offline perknh

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When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« on: August 10, 2014, 10:36:53 pm »
Would somebody please talk about Google's use of Linux' open source software to do data mining.  This process appears to me to be less than transparent, and seems to violate the philosophy of open source all together.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't understand how something goes from open source to proprietary and then can be used against the very people open source was previously helping to protect.

This topic is prompted by a thread we had earlier that morphed for a while onto the topic of the deceptive practices of some well-meaning individuals, or possibly some Linux distributions themselves, that have the intention to promote the use of Linux.  For a while that thread became an excellent discussion of where one should draw the line in doing so.

In that thread I mentioned I met some teenage girls at a local Walmart Supercenter yesterday.  All of these girls agreed that Chromebooks were a happening thing -- meaning a powerful phenomenon that is quietly taking place right now.  One of these girls said that she already owned a Chromebook and would certainly recommend the purchase of one as well.   And none of these girls seemed to be vaguely aware of the existence of Linux -- before meeting me, of course!   ;)

These conversations -- the one I had with these teenage girls, and the other within our common discussion -- got me to wonder about personal data mining, and where we need to draw the line with that.  How early in life does data mining begin?  Birth, I'd have to say, and probably always has been to some degree.  But, concerning Linux, is personal data mining a form of deception overlooked within our Linux community now?  Or does making Linux' open source software proprietary, as Google has done, rid the Linux community of any responsibility when it comes to the mining of our personal data?  Is the Linux community off the hook when open source becomes proprietary? 

Forgive me, but I see a lot philosophy going on within this forum.  And I'd really like hearing some thoughts about this complex and increasingly important subject.
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Offline PCNetSpec

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2014, 10:35:03 am »
You've lost me on a number of points here...

What did Google take that was open source, and make it proprietary ?

What makes you think the Linux community in general should bear any responsibility for how software is used by the end user (in this case Google) ?

What Linux software has been appropriated by Google to "data mine", and what do you mean by "data mine" ?

Data collection isn't always a bad thing, Googles "analytics" can be very handy for sites like this one .. eg. If I didn't "know" there was still an audience for say my AA1 tutorial I'd have stopped updating it ages ago.

The problem really lies in what that data is used for/sold to, and what control you have over it .. more questions for government than the Linux community.

Besides which, being part of the Linux (or even FOSS) community doesn't automatically mean you have to be on a crusade to change the political landscape .. I fail to see the connection here
Linux/FOSS  <---> Usage or indeed Linux/FOSS  <---> some kind of moral stance
 Those are "end user" issues .. would you like Linux/FOSS to come with seriously restrictive end user license agreements ?
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Offline perknh

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2014, 01:07:01 pm »
Thank you, PCNetSpec,
 
If I lost you here, it's because I'm the one who's lost here, and am better trying to understand these issues.  My thinking is muddled here, and I know it.  So that's why I asked those questions.  I want to be told where I'm wrong with my understanding about these issues.  The concept of open source, and its implications, is a relatively new concept for me, and I want to understand it better.  Even Linus Torvalds said this was a complicated issue -- at least legally.

Here's what I do and don't understand:

1)  Linux is a free, open source OS. 

2) Now Google comes in, and somehow proprietizes what was a before free and open source.  Maybe I'm wrong here, but it looks that way to me.

3) Now after this we have Google's Android and Google's Chromebooks.

4) So here's what I certainly don't understand:  Are Android OSes, and Chromebook OSes still considered open source OSes?  Is anyone who knows how still permitted to read the code for Android OSes, or the code for Chromebooks?    Android and Chromebooks still have a Linux kernel, right?  But are they still open source?  If the kernels of Android and Chromebooks can no longer be reviewed and modified, wouldn't this mean that they are no longer open source software, and no longer true Linux OSes?

If you tell me that Android and Chromebook codes are still open source and able to be read and modified, and that we are, in fact, just paying for the devices on which these OSes run, then I do understand this concept of open source.  If you say, I'm wrong about this, then I don't understand the concept of open source yet.

No doubt I've got cobwebs in my thinking somewhere here.  I'm trying to get the basics first.  If I can understand these ideas first, I'll be able to understand where data mining fits into all of this after.

Thank you for your patience with me here.  And if you think this thread belongs more in the general conversation forum, please feel free to move it there.  I wasn't quite sure where best to place this this post.

Thank you,

perknh


   
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 05:01:11 pm by perknh »
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Offline PCNetSpec

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2014, 03:03:07 pm »
1)  Linux is a free, open source OS. 

Erm not really .. Linux is not an "OS" it's a kernel, but YES the kernel is open source, and licensed under the GPL version 2

The term"Operating System" is a loosely defined one, but definitely requires more than just a kernel ;)

2) Now Google comes in, and somehow proprietizes what was a before free and open source.  Maybe I'm wrong here, but it looks that way to me.

Again, (if we're talking about Andriod) not really .. Google took the Linux kernel (which they are free to do under the GPLv2) and used in in Andriod (actually a modified version, but its still open source .. and as I understand it, it HAS to be as a derivative work)

3) Now after this we have Google's Android and Google's Chromebooks.

Yup

4) So here's what I certainly don't understand:  Are Android OSes, and Chromebook OSes still considered open source OSes?  Is anyone who knows how still permitted to read the code for Android OSes, or the code for Chromebooks?    Android and Chromebooks still have a Linux kernel, right?  But are they still open source?  If the kernels of Android and Chromebooks can no longer be reviewed and modified, wouldn't this mean that they are no longer open source software, and no longer true Linux OSes?

As I understand it, ChomeOS uses a standard patched Linux kernel, so is open source .. Andriod *used to* use a forked kernel, but it's now moving back closer to the mainline Linux kernel .. but both were/are open source .. though Google has been playing fast and lose with the term "open source" of late, witholding the source code for a period of time.

If you tell me that Android and Chromebook codes are still open source and able to be read and modified, and that we are, in fact, just paying for the devices on which these OSes run, then I do understand this concept of open source.  If you say, I'm wrong about this, then I don't understand the concept of open source yet.

The kernels are open source, but that does NOT mean the whole OS/Distro cannot include proprietary software.

"Open Source" just means the code is available, it's has nothing to do with "ethics" .. that's more a function of the License it's released under.

The Linux kernel (and anything that inserts itself into it, or is based off it) is covered by the GPL version 2 .. but that DOES NOT mean anything that interacts with hardware through the kernel has to be.

The minute the "Linux" and "FOSS" communities attempt to impose someone else's "ethics" on me by way of what I can and can't run on their software, is the day I call them hypocrites and probably go back to Windows.

If this topic is about "Are Google ethical ?" .. they're a massive corporation, run by shareholders .. what do you think ?
But I still fail to see what that has to do with Linux and FOSS

The kernels job is purely to allow software to talk to hardware .. it's doesn't (and shouldn't) make non technical impositions on that software.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 03:11:19 pm by PCNetSpec »
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Offline rjm65

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2014, 03:09:40 pm »

The minute the "Linux" and "FOSS" communities attempt to impose someone else's "ethics" on me by way of what I can and can't run on their software, is the day I call them hypocrites and probably go back to Windows.
Let me know when you go back to windows 7 Mark, I can guide you on how it works...  LOL  ;)
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Offline PCNetSpec

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2014, 03:47:00 pm »
:)
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Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2014, 04:03:25 pm »
Good evening all.  I've been following this very interesting thread.  So please excuse me while I butt in with a plug for The Linux Foundation's Introduction to Linux course.  It is really very good and answers all of these questions and a whole bunch more.  It costs absolutely nothing.  Introduction to Linux.  I'm taking it myself and it is worth the effort.  Have fun  ;)!
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Offline perknh

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2014, 04:34:11 pm »
PCNetSpec, this explanation has helped me a great deal, and helped to clean up many of my misconceptions.

Quote
If this topic is about "Are Google ethical ?" .. they're a massive corporation, run by shareholders .. what do you think ?
But I still fail to see what that has to do with Linux and FOSS
--PCNetSpec

Since we're really talking about a kernel, and not an OS, I can now say emphatically that Google's ethics has nothing to do with Linux or FOSS.

Do you see my conceptual error?  I thought Linux was an operating system, while it is actually a kernel.  I get it.

Still, for convenience's sake we'll continue to say we run Linux here.  If not we'd always have to say we are running Android's Jelly Bean or Peppermint 5.  If you think we lose people when we say the word Linux, just wait until we start talking about Jelly Bean and Peppermint 5!

PCNetSpec, forgive me, but I have to agree with rjm65's on this one.  You're never going back to Windows.   You'll give up computing perhaps, but you'll never go back to Windows.  Of this, I am absolutely certain.   ;)
 
Thank you, PCNetSpec, for clarifying my misconceptions.  That explanation was very helpful.   :)



« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 04:51:51 pm by perknh »
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Offline emegra

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2014, 05:20:41 pm »
If you really want to understand the meaning of free software and open source software and the difference between the two, I'd suggest you watch some of the speeches by Richard Stallman (you'll find many of them on youtube) who is the founder of the GNU operating system (which is what Peppermint os is based on) , the free software foundation and the GPL

All Linux distributions (there maybe 1 or 2 exceptions) are more rightly GNU/Linux, GNU is an operating system created by Richard Stallman and Linux is the kernal created by Linus Torvalds both of these things combined together are the basis of the operating system you're using and are free software

If you want to get really deep into data mining and online surveillance then search for Jacob Applebaum you'll find many of his speeches on youtube as well 



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Offline perknh

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2014, 05:40:49 pm »
Hello AndyInMokum,

I did want to audit that class.  I missed its opening lectures, and I figured I'd be too far behind by now.

Today I was looking at your comments about Slackware, and your suggestion to try Porteus.  I even downloaded it today to my external hard drive in my attempts to understand more about Linux OSes.  Even though I don't understand Porteus very well, meaning how to update it, or to write a command in its terminal, I have to agree it is breathtakingly fast -- maybe the fastest OS I've ever seen.

Taking the class on Linux, and your suggestion to try Porteus, in order to understand more about Slackware, are both excellent ideas.

Thank you,

perknh

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Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2014, 05:50:14 pm »
It's my pleasure  ;)!
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Offline AndyInMokum

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2014, 06:00:24 pm »
There is no doubt about it, Porteus is ridiculously quick.  I think the guys have done an extraordinary job getting so much out of such a tiny ISO.  And it looks good too!!  It is a perfect thumb drive distro. It is very clever stuff for sure. 8)!! 
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Offline PCNetSpec

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2014, 06:10:55 pm »
Just a bunch of common terms really..

Linux = the kernel .. the layer that interacts with the hardware and  (through which) applications can (and must) do the same. Software interacts with the kernel, the kernel interacts with hardware so there's a clear separation of applications and hardware/resources .. kinda makes software easier to write and less cumbersome, it allows for clear system wide security, meaning badly written or malicious software cannot *directly" access hardware/resources (then possibly break out and affect other processes) .. the kernel is in control and software has to ask it nicely for access ;)

OS = (though it has no nailed down definition) it' could generally be accepted to mean at least the bare minimum  needed to run any application software .. . so *at least* the kernel and toolchain, but more likely you'd also want X and a few other core technologies

Distro = an OS with a bunch software "distributed" with it ..  so a human can actually get something done.

In truth, there's no such thing as a" Linux OS" or "Linux Distro" .. indeed Peppermint OS is NOT an OS, it's a Distribution that includes an OS .. but only Stallmanites refuse to see that people like *simple* hooks on which to hang their hats.



Google is clearly a "distribution", and it uses the Linux kernel .. but Linux or the Linux community have little (to no) say in what's included in the "distro" or ehat it's used for .. and that's the way it SHOULD be :)
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Offline PCNetSpec

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2014, 06:15:50 pm »
Quote from: emegra
If you really want to understand the meaning of free software and open source software and the difference between the two, I'd suggest you watch some of the speeches by Richard Stallman

Oh HECK NO....  :o

RMS has a very warped sense of reality  .. and the last thing the world needs in another crusading Stallmanite  ::)

For some reason Stallman videos make me punch my PC
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 06:20:00 pm by PCNetSpec »
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Offline perknh

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Re: When Open Source Software Does Data Mining
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2014, 06:18:17 pm »
Quote
All Linux distributions (there maybe 1 or 2 exceptions) are more rightly GNU/Linux, GNU is an operating system created by Richard Stallman and Linux is the kernal created by Linus Torvalds both of these things combined together are the basis of the operating system you're using and are free software --Emegra

Thank you for bringing these two brilliant men into our conversation.  Afterall, if it wasn't for these two men, we wouldn't be here having this conversation.

I think of Richard Stallman as being extremely idealistic, and I think of Linus Torvalds as being exceedingly practical, and I believe we need both the idealism of Stallman and the practicality of Torvalds to keep anything as good as GNU/Linux going strong but still moving in a healthy direction.

I always hear Richard Stallman taking about free software, and I believe he's created a free software movement.  On the other hand, I always hear Linux Torvalds talk about open software.

Is what we have here in Peppermint actually a combination of the two ideas?  Are we running free software here, or are we running open software here which is free -- but has with a few proprietary elements tossed in at setup?  That is, if we check the box that has a few proprietary elements at startup.

Thank you, Emega, for helping to clarify what we are actually running here at Peppermint.  We are running GNU/Linux -- not just Linux.

P.S.

Your Plank installation and autorun instructions helped me a great deal with Peppermint 4.  I even have Plank set up right now on a friend's Xubuntu installation, and it's running perfectly.
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