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Re: lynx-dev Re: Who Is Using Lynx

From: Philip Webb
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Re: Who Is Using Lynx
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 04:22:59 -0500 (EST)

991110 Al Gilman replied to Paul Benavides (Blue Cross, Michigan):
PB> I am trying to find out if any other major corporations
PB> or commercial institutions are using Lynx as a browser
PB> in any type of critical environment.
PB> My company is considering a large scale adoption of Lynx,
PB> but there are concerns over security, stability & legality.
AG> Security: Lynx is subjected to intense scrutiny on lots of platforms
AG> and any holes found are rapidly fixed.
AG> Stability: The dominant browsers are so much worse there is no contest.
AG> Legality: Go to the breakout section of the distribution site
AG> and copy down the "copying" file.  Show this to your lawyers.
AG> You should expect that they will be satisfied.

that's very good advice.  generally, well-established open-source software
should be at least as secure & stable as big-name closed-source software:
anyone can test it, everyone can try to fix it
& there's no-one in a position to try to cover problems up.
legally, anyone can use it free of charge: the only restriction with Lynx is
that if you do any development of your own you must publish the source,
ie you can't turn open-source software into a secret-source derivative.

> Lynx will shine in performance: if you are doing strictly business,
> you will get through tasks faster with Lynx.
> Lynx falls down in functionality: if you want to implement
> intranet functions in JavaScript, Lynx will not execute these.

there is continual vigorous debate about how far Lynx can or should try
to add the ability to handle things like JS.  your company would be free
to develop your own code to do that, but you would be expected
to make the source available for the public user community.
> Owing to free distribution, we do not have good records who is using Lynx.
> There is anecdotal evidence of Microsoft employees using it on the job
> because they wanted to get their job done.

certainly, M$ employees have sent friendly messages to lynx-dev,
inquiring or contributing to the effort in some way.

you will find using Lynx -- or other open-source software -- different
from relying on commercial closed-source products in important ways.

first, there's no Official In Charge:
lynx-dev is the accepted site for discussing & developing Lynx,
but anyone can join in the effort & anyone could start another site;
there is a co-ordinator (Tom Dickey), who tries to assess the consensus,
but his status relies on being accepted by other developers (he's very good).

this means second, there's no-one to sue: you take all the risk yourself.
however, given the fully open nature of the development effort,
you can rely in a common-sense way on the goodwill of the developers,
who are all volunteers with no profit in mind & themselves users.

it also means third, you should be prepared to have someone on staff
who understands Lynx & follows lynx-dev (which is a busy list),
putting something back into it from time to time
in return for having it available as a free & viable tool.

to get a fuller picture, look at the Archive at :
AG & i are just two lynx-dev regulars out of a couple of dozen worldwide
with different strengths & interests, plus other more silent subscribers,
but the Archive reflects the effort of everyone over quite a few years.
we'ld all like to know what you decide: send all replies to lynx-dev.

SUPPORT     ___________//___,  Philip Webb : address@hidden
ELECTRIC   /] [] [] [] [] []|  Centre for Urban & Community Studies
TRANSIT    `-O----------O---'  University of Toronto

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