Shocked and chastened by Edward Snowden's revelation this year of a vast NSA surveillance program, Antonius Kies resolved to better support free and open source software development. Thus Kies, a Linux desktop user and an engineer at Graz University of Technology in Austria, recently became a Linux Foundation individual supporter.
“I want to support the technical development of secure open source OSes (operating systems),” he said.
By reading the ongoing media coverage of the Snowden leaks, Kies learned for the first time about zero-day exploits, backdoors and state-approved trojan viruses. He objects to corporations and governments spying on private citizens and cites articles on ZDNet, ArsTechnica and InformationWeek as being pivotal in changing his perceptions on this topic.
“I worry that this can become a real problem, when it gets more out of control than it already is,” Kies said via email.
Though Kies passed the Linux Essentials exam this spring at the Linuxtage in Graz and maintains a Debian/MATE system at home, he's not a programmer and leaves the rest to Linux professionals he says.
“I once downloaded the Linux Kernel for fun... and was not able to understand one single line of code,” he said. “This serious work should be done by professionals, not by hobbyists.”
The Linux kernel, which is built and maintained by a community of nearly 10,000 developers from more than 1,000 companies, forms the basis of the Linux operating system and an open source alternative to proprietary operating systems. By supporting The Linux Foundation, Kies is helping to support the kernel community's work.
“The public needs fully open source OSes, where experts can review the whole code, to minimize the risk of hidden backdoors,” said Kies.
“For sure there are unknown weaknesses in the code, and there are 0-day-exploits also for Linux,” he said, “But I guess that the number is smaller than in Windows, and the chance to find them is better due to the open source development model.”