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Old 08-28-2007, 06:19 PM   #1
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open source root and open source isp

Has anyone ever considered Open Source Root?

Imagine an operating system that is fully open source - no root password.

It would be similar to Wikipedia where any user can make any changes that they want. The catch would be that no single user could do anything. Every single operation would have to be approved (or voted on, if you will) but a majority of the administrators.

(I can imagine an existing linux distro being modded to make this work - where some process has full root privileges and no human actually knows the root password. Then this process is a web server / webmin type program that combines wikipedia's users with webmins control of the system...)

Can someone tell me why this wouldn't work?

Based on this system - why couldn't you create an Open Source ISP?

If the computers are all managed by unpaid users who took a stake in the company because it is where they get their internet from, then why wouldn't it be possible to run a very cheap ISP that has essentially no staff - it's basically a non-profit organization that is run by it's members.

I realize there are some serious barriers standing in the way of this happening - like how would this non-profit open source isp get internet to its users... but I seriously think that with the creative imagination of the world, this is not something too impossible.

The ISP could be very bare bones. It literally only provides it's users with internet - nothing else. No email, no web hosting, nothing. Just plain, unfiltered internet. That way there is no user data on the system for someone to hack or steal, and it's incredibly cheap to run.

Prove me wrong, or prove me right.
Old 08-28-2007, 06:23 PM   #2
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That would be great, except someone has to pay for the actual fiber, coax, or twisted pair that the network runs on. I would love something like that. But you would have to have, basically, another entire network ran.
Old 08-28-2007, 06:36 PM   #3
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This idea seems to be mixing up some different concepts---eg "fully open-source" and "no root password" are really very separate issues.

To the extent that you are talking about distributed systems with no-one really in charge (Remember the Borg in Star Trek?) I think the theory is fine, but in practice it is not likely to happen. A good analogy would be to solve the traffic problem by having everyone share the empty space in their car.

One important aspect of humans and human nature is that someone needs to be "in charge". That's not going to change anytime soon.
Prove me wrong, or prove me right
Can't do either--not even going to try....
Old 08-28-2007, 11:25 PM   #4
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Yes, they are two very unique concepts, but I thought it was appropriate to keep them together since they are co-dependent.

Also, in my mind - the service would not be free - just open to anyone to manage and take part. For example, there is a company called Copowi ( who believe in net neutrality and they are piggy backing on existing dsl infrastructure. Yes, it does cost more than just getting dsl through that respective company, but there are benefits. And sometimes, if the situation is right, people will pay more for a product of greater quality.

So, this system would be an ISP that anyone can manage, and you would pay to use it - but the reason it would work, is because you are paying for the service and it is your internet provider, so you want to see it work. And I think there are enough system admins (or wannabe system admins) out there to manage it. Oh, and I wanted to say that wikipedia seems like a good example to me of this type of system. True, you get some jerks who screw things up, but by and large, wikipedia is a good source of legit and correct information - and it's very up to date. Perhaps a 100% decentralized system is not feasible, but the idea is there I think. :-)

Anyway... not to important. I just wanted to get the idea out there for people to think about. I'm an idea person. :-)

Thanks for your comments!

Last edited by SPGWhistler; 08-28-2007 at 11:28 PM.


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