software / program blueprints

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Sirion Sirion's picture
software / program blueprints

There is a huge problem I got with... is software not copyable?
If there is Open Source as a Motivation why is there never ever Open Source [Software], Open Source [blueprints], ... mentioned in the gear chapter?

By Implication there are blueprints for software, would that be the same thing as "the source code" ?
(because you can buy blueprints for everything available in the gear section)

Or is Aquiring open source software a favour equivalent to the favour it'ld need to get an item with the equivalent cost?
(meaning moderate favour to get get an open source program that would have a prize of moderate)

nerdnumber1 nerdnumber1's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Sirion wrote:
There is a huge problem I got with... is software not copyable?
If there is Open Source as a Motivation why is there never ever Open Source [Software], Open Source [blueprints], ... mentioned in the gear chapter?

By Implication there are blueprints for software, would that be the same thing as "the source code" ?
(because you can buy blueprints for everything available in the gear section)

Or is Aquiring open source software a favour equivalent to the favour it'ld need to get an item with the equivalent cost?
(meaning moderate favour to get get an open source program that would have a prize of moderate)

The way I read it was that it depends on where you are. It might require a favor, especially if you're looking for dangerous or potentially illegal blueprints (like for a plasma cannon) and especially if you are somewhere with heavy hypercorp influence. If you are in a society that heavily values transparency and free exchange of information, like an autonomist or anarchist controled outer-system hab, then you might be able to get a library of free blueprints with a simple networking or research roll. I think it is up to the GM, but this is something I've been wondering too.

Ephiral Ephiral's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Sirion wrote:
There is a huge problem I got with... is software not copyable?
If there is Open Source as a Motivation why is there never ever Open Source [Software], Open Source [blueprints], ... mentioned in the gear chapter?

Software is absolutely copyable, barring DRM. (A good Programming score can fix that, too.) The reason OSS/OSH aren't in the gear chapter? Because they're the exact same things that are already in the gear chapter, except with a cost of 0.

Sirion wrote:
By Implication there are blueprints for software, would that be the same thing as "the source code" ?
(because you can buy blueprints for everything available in the gear section)

If you're trying to buy the source code for non-open software, it will almost certainly cost you way more than one cost category higher than a copy - if it's available at all. This is not spelled out in the rulebook, but is pretty common-sense - you're asking for a way to completely destroy the profitability of that product.

Sirion wrote:
Or is Aquiring open source software a favour equivalent to the favour it'ld need to get an item with the equivalent cost?
(meaning moderate favour to get get an open source program that would have a prize of moderate)

This isn't covered quite as explicitly as I thought, but core page 284 covers it for blueprints, and the logic extends to software in general: Simple Research check in open environments. Closed environments (PC territory, frex) will probably require using rep to find a source, but the actual software is presumably zero-cost once the source is found (much like current real-life practice).

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

If you are asking about hacking software (be it for egos or merely for computers), then there is no Open Source, and there is also. What does this mean? Essentially, how good/new an exploit is.

Explaining this in detail:

You find a backdoor or an exploit in the latest Service Pack of whatever OS synthmorphs run. If you release a program you just made to make use of it as Open Source, chances are that the hole will be plugged within hours (at most). However, if you keep it to yourself, you might be able to use it for weeks... and if you share it with your good buddies (or that guy who has a really high rep in your faction, a detail he later on thanks you publicly for, raising your rep score!) the "life" of that exploit gets reduced.

So yeah, lots of hacking software roaming freely on the mesh. Almost all of them useless, however, because they are outdated.

Now if you were talking about the software to run a nanofabber, or a spaceship, those are included with the physical product, so there is no need to get anything extra.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Sirion wrote:
There is a huge problem I got with... is software not copyable?
If there is Open Source as a Motivation why is there never ever Open Source [Software], Open Source [blueprints], ... mentioned in the gear chapter?

By Implication there are blueprints for software, would that be the same thing as "the source code" ?
(because you can buy blueprints for everything available in the gear section)

Or is Aquiring open source software a favour equivalent to the favour it'ld need to get an item with the equivalent cost?
(meaning moderate favour to get get an open source program that would have a prize of moderate)

I'd consider non-copy protected software closer to an item's blueprint. The actual source code is relatively more valuable.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Do note folks, open source does not necessarily equal monetary freedom, only freedom of rights. The perfect example of this is this very game... open source in the sense that the owners give you complete liberty to do with the books as you please... but not free in the sense of monetary cost (they still ask you to pay for these books).

In that same vein, open source will likely be popular in the outer system, which generally runs on a reputation economy. Most open source software will be free in the sense of monetary cost (everything is "free" in that sense, since a reputation market doesn't have money), but will likely have a cost with regards to reputation.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Decivre wrote:

In that same vein, open source will likely be popular in the outer system, which generally runs on a reputation economy. Most open source software will be free in the sense of monetary cost (everything is "free" in that sense, since a reputation market doesn't have money), but will likely have a cost with regards to reputation.

Not necessarily, since we are talking about software, the only "costs" involved are production/development and storage + transmission. Frankly, were I a player character, I would be really horrified at the new economies in Rimward because they give me free access to everything (and limited access to make all that into physicall stuff). Which means, according to the law of conservation of difficulty, all my enemy NPCs will have the same assets at hand, if not more. Which means a huge headache for GM's, but also that they can go nuts with the amount and variation of toys!

Personally, if my players are in a new economy place, I'd let them get whatever they want. But I also warn them that they might be downloading malware (or not), they still need a CM (plus all its logistic train: raw materials, energy and, the most important part, TIME), and certain stuff is frowned upon or directly forbidden (mass destruction weapons, for example). I would also ask them to make their wishlist with time for me to see it before the actual game session, in order to avoid losing game time (that can be used into... the actual adventure of getting the gear! At least if they need to get involved in red or gray markets).

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Xagroth wrote:
Not necessarily, since we are talking about software, the only "costs" involved are production/development and storage + transmission. Frankly, were I a player character, I would be really horrified at the new economies in Rimward because they give me free access to everything (and limited access to make all that into physicall stuff). Which means, according to the law of conservation of difficulty, all my enemy NPCs will have the same assets at hand, if not more. Which means a huge headache for GM's, but also that they can go nuts with the amount and variation of toys!

Again, it depends on your definition of free. Reputation is an important factor in the outer system, and you may find yourself denied basic services (such as software) real quick if the community deems you a useless leech. Reputation economies are all about community, and for you to be able to enjoy the free perks of those economies, you must be a part of that community.

Xagroth wrote:
Personally, if my players are in a new economy place, I'd let them get whatever they want. But I also warn them that they might be downloading malware (or not), they still need a CM (plus all its logistic train: raw materials, energy and, the most important part, TIME), and certain stuff is frowned upon or directly forbidden (mass destruction weapons, for example). I would also ask them to make their wishlist with time for me to see it before the actual game session, in order to avoid losing game time (that can be used into... the actual adventure of getting the gear! At least if they need to get involved in red or gray markets).

Actually, you'd be surprised how unlikely it is for open-source code to contain malware. When the source code is available, and can be peer reviewed, the likelihood for malicious code drops significantly. That's why much of the malware out there (trojan horses and the like) are based around closed-source software.

Remember that Anon-OS that came out a month ago? It was based on Linux and the creator refused to post the source code and changes he made to the stock software within his distribution. As a result, Sourceforge took it down, and refused to put it up until they released the code and other sources verified that the code synched to the distro.

In fact, a trend we are seeing a shift to today is the implementation of executable code (a la Python, Java and other similar languages) where software does not have to be compiled to be run. This completely eliminates many of the risks of malware... it's one thing to hide malicious data in binary form, but much harder when it is human-readable. It's very possible that by 10 AF, most open-source operating systems may be able to natively run all software in code form, rendering any need for compiling obsolete (at least among the outer system, where open source reigns).

If you really want to stop your players from abusing the outer system markets, note that "free as in money" does not mean "free as in strings". A favor payed is a favor owed, and asking for big favors from people out there means that they will own your ass for a potentially long time. If you don't pay back those favors, your reputation may slide, and it may hurt the trust that those communities have in you, making it harder for you to ask for more favors at a future time.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Interesting, I didn't know about that. However, I bet there is a possibility, while much more minute than I thought of, since I'm sure the Planetary Consortium and other enemies of the free source code might want to infiltrate malware in that system so people will distrust it, and since not everybody knows things in such detail (or want to check all that command lists!).

As for the freeware blueprints, there are those even in the inner system, for people too "poor" to afford designer's stuff. I suppose that lots of stuff is freeware as in "just download this and print it", stuff rreally basic that can be really useful. For example, basic spacesuits, ectos, clothes, food recipes, some games (poker decks, jenga, balls, etc...), first aid kits...

Also, if there are public CMs, I bet they have some priority items for emergencies: if a descompression have been reported in the area (or a hull breach, or...), spacesuits or other "lifesaver boats" might get priority, while first aid kits might be a priority in normal situations (for those cases when somebody has a heart attack or some similar problem), considering that most medkits here will place you in stasis.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Xagroth wrote:
Interesting, I didn't know about that. However, I bet there is a possibility, while much more minute than I thought of, since I'm sure the Planetary Consortium and other enemies of the free source code might want to infiltrate malware in that system so people will distrust it, and since not everybody knows things in such detail (or want to check all that command lists!).

Of course there's a possibility. Just that the possibility has a high chance of being mitigated. Specialized debug software might run programs within constrained virtualization environments to see if they have any malicious code while in action. Some AI may even be capable of running through code to spot for malware.

On other other end, there may have been severe leaps in finding means to hide malicious code within larger software. That, or it may be as simple as intentionally hiding flaws that aren't necessarily malicious within the code.

Xagroth wrote:
As for the freeware blueprints, there are those even in the inner system, for people too "poor" to afford designer's stuff. I suppose that lots of stuff is freeware as in "just download this and print it", stuff rreally basic that can be really useful. For example, basic spacesuits, ectos, clothes, food recipes, some games (poker decks, jenga, balls, etc...), first aid kits...

In the inner system, the essentials are likely the things that are made as "freeware". Food, clothing, and material to repair and maintain your home is probably easily acquired from public fabbers. But in order to maintain the scarcity necessary to keep a semi-traditional economy, most other objects probably aren't fabbed... at least not at will.

Xagroth wrote:
Also, if there are public CMs, I bet they have some priority items for emergencies: if a descompression have been reported in the area (or a hull breach, or...), spacesuits or other "lifesaver boats" might get priority, while first aid kits might be a priority in normal situations (for those cases when somebody has a heart attack or some similar problem), considering that most medkits here will place you in stasis.

Fabbing is actually a slow process. It's likely that public fabbers actually fabricate things while no one is using them to maintain a stock, which is then dispensed when someone comes to order something. Emergency reserves are likely produced at early convenience, and nanotech is used simply to maintain it (thanks to nanotech, emergency rations need never rot, and emergency suits need never be replaced).

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

How many people here actually check the md5 checksums of the software they download?

The malware-freeness of open source software might be just an effect of its relative rarity. A bit like how for a long time Macs did not have the computer virus problems PCs had, simply because the ecosystem was too small for virus-writers to really bother. If there is a big open source ecosystem then there will be enough motivation for malware writers to sneak in their code. And it doesn't matter if it is found eventually, as long as it does it work well enough.

In EP, software is ultra-complex and hard to check by hand. And just as there are likely plenty of automated malware-detection AI systems running on Argonaut servers trying to find nasty code, there are other groups running opposite systems trying to discreetly hide exploits that are hard to find.

As I see it, the biggest limiter on getting blueprints is not downloading the blueprints but actually finding somebody who has the expertise to get them to print to something usable (or knows *which* blueprints are good). You get a million hits in the mesh for "railgun", but most of them seem to use weird OpenCeram libraries you have never heard of and refuse to print until you give them the correct path. When you search for "easy railgun wizard" you get a fairly usable piece of software that does print a customized railgun... except that it also contains some Pax Familia hostageware. When you search for "Khonox railer" you get a really useful and simple blueprint, but you probably need to know about the scene to know it.

Extropian

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Arenamontanus wrote:
How many people here actually check the md5 checksums of the software they download?

The malware-freeness of open source software might be just an effect of its relative rarity. A bit like how for a long time Macs did not have the computer virus problems PCs had, simply because the ecosystem was too small for virus-writers to really bother. If there is a big open source ecosystem then there will be enough motivation for malware writers to sneak in their code. And it doesn't matter if it is found eventually, as long as it does it work well enough.

In EP, software is ultra-complex and hard to check by hand. And just as there are likely plenty of automated malware-detection AI systems running on Argonaut servers trying to find nasty code, there are other groups running opposite systems trying to discreetly hide exploits that are hard to find.

Who says we need to check our md5s? Most linux systems do this natively, while utilizing PGP handshakes to ensure that you are getting the right md5 to check against. In 10 AF, this all could probably be mitigated simply by your muse, who could check your code for you. They do, after all, come natively with a nominal amount of programming skills... likely just enough to check for problems, and not actually do any coding.

Codebases are actually quite simple to navigate, and those that decide to look through them can browse code not just linearly, but by writer, by insertion date, and by section. If someone does insert malicious code into a codebase, someone might find it simply by merit of the fact that the malicious code will be listed all under the same timestamp or login. Malware writers will have to go through a lot of hoops to hide their work from prying eyes. Plus there's the fact that these codebases could very well be tied to reputation networks, and you may simply be refused access if you don't have a good one. Open-source means you can read and edit your own copy of the code, not necessarily donate anything to the official code yourself.

Not that any of this is impossible. In fact, I could imagine plenty of hack groups (whether subversives from the inner system or just douche bags) that might take the time and effort to insert their malicious code over the course of days from multiple login sources (which they have spoofed or stolen from someone else), just to reduce the odds that someone will notice. More scary is the idea that something like a TITAN might infiltrate an open-source codebase, putting a strain of the virus into the software, while even making the code itself a variant AoK hack that affects you if you read it.

Arenamontanus wrote:
As I see it, the biggest limiter on getting blueprints is not downloading the blueprints but actually finding somebody who has the expertise to get them to print to something usable (or knows *which* blueprints are good). You get a million hits in the mesh for "railgun", but most of them seem to use weird OpenCeram libraries you have never heard of and refuse to print until you give them the correct path. When you search for "easy railgun wizard" you get a fairly usable piece of software that does print a customized railgun... except that it also contains some Pax Familia hostageware. When you search for "Khonox railer" you get a really useful and simple blueprint, but you probably need to know about the scene to know it.

I imagine that some blueprint formats are pretty straightforward, with the intent of simply printing and being done with it. The more complex and harder-to-use blueprints are probably built with modularity in mind, designed for people who intend to custom-design things using ideas that others have put together. For example, if I wanted to make a new synthmorph, I might need to integrate a basic cyberbrain blueprint with some chassis blueprint, which I modified with a blueprint for a new iron-aluminum alloy, combined with these motor and leg blueprints to give it motion, and flavored with this stylish new gun mount blueprint. Integrate them together with the right software and BAM... new design.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

blarney blarney's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Because this is not really an area of expertise for me, forgive me if the question is an extremely simple one to answer, but: what about an extremely complex (perhaps even Titan-based?) riff on Ken Thompson's compiler hack to circumvent spotting the problem?

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

blarney wrote:
Because this is not really an area of expertise for me, forgive me if the question is an extremely simple one to answer, but: what about an extremely complex (perhaps even Titan-based?) riff on Ken Thompson's compiler hack to circumvent spotting the problem?

Hehehehe... the compiler hack of course works fine on matter compilers as well as software compilers. One can hide *lots* of code in the hardware of a CM, and if it is used to make another CM or a hive it might insert it, without disturbing the blueprint. And the only way of detecting it is to pick the CM physically apart and compare it with the blueprint - and the malicious code can be hidden in a tiny section.

Not a big problem in the inner system where most likely CMs are made in special factories with special CMs, but in the outer system this is a very real threat since people copy CMs using CMs. Of course, in the inner system Nanosys most likely *has* a hack installed in all CMs to detect and subvert illegally copied CMs.

Overall, hardware insecurity is frightening both in EP and the real world. It doesn't matter if your code is mathematically solid if the processor running it is working for the enemy.

Extropian

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: software / program blueprints

Arenamontanus wrote:

Hehehehe... the compiler hack of course works fine on matter compilers as well as software compilers. One can hide *lots* of code in the hardware of a CM, and if it is used to make another CM or a hive it might insert it, without disturbing the blueprint. And the only way of detecting it is to pick the CM physically apart and compare it with the blueprint - and the malicious code can be hidden in a tiny section.

Wait... I see... That is where Bioware got the idea of the Mass Effect tech being made by the Reapers so they could have backdoors everywhere!

Now on a serious thougth (for EP)... Oh dear... ALL Morphs could be infected! Imagine having that inside the Cortical Stack technology!

Because of that, in an old, silent space station in the dark cold region of space between Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, an insane Async called Dr. Sibak is trying to find out if this is the case. Lately, he has gone from dissecting cortical stacks (and their contents) to create full clones of himself (ego included), so he's the "control group". Of course, he still cannot discard the Ego Bridge as the infecting part... But he never ever thought for an instant that he might be infected too!
Cue a Firewall team that goes in to check on the rumours of ego traffic, or following a thread of Nine Lives, and arriving at the creepy, almost unpowered station full of clones (both decanted and in test tubes!) with some defenses and eerie texts here and there...
Did I just turn a 30 mins adventure from Star Trek Online into a small, fast scenario for EP? Oh dear... ^^