Open Source

CS Table 12/4/18: Open Source and Security

This week's discussion topic was suggested by an alumna, who writes:

Recently an NPM package author handed over control of his open source project to a stranger who promised to maintain the package for future users. The stranger added malicious code to the package, which was then downloaded by millions of users. This raises questions about responsibility in the open source world. What responsibilities does the owner of an open source project hold? What responsibilities are up to the user? What can developers do to utilize open source projects in a safe and secure manner?
There are two recommended readings for the CS Table discussion; the first is an account of the recent event we’ll discuss, and the second is a perspective on security and open source from Bruce Schneier, written in 1999.

You may also find these resources helpful or informative as you prepare for our discussion:

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

An Opportunity to Contribute Translations to Ushahidi

This semester, we are using Ushahidi as a platform in section one of CSC 207. Ushahidi is an open-source crowdmapping program that was originally designed for monitoring election violence in Kenya. Its design allows anonymous posting of geolocated events (with optional pictures), using Web, SMS, and more. Since its original design, Ushahidi has been used for a wide range of things, from mapping potholes in LA to burger joints in Germany to emergency response needs during some recent floods in Canada. We've even started a few soon-to-be-announced projects on campus using Ushahidi.

The folks at Ushahidi want to make sure that it's available to anyone. And so they are working on making sure that translations of the platform are available in most languages. Information on the translation project is available at The list of languages and their status can be found at

Grinnell College CS has a strong commitment to free and open source software (FOSS), and we encourage our students to help with FOSS projects as they are able. If you have the knowledge to contribute to this translation project, please consider doing so.

Thursday Extra: "Free software and open source software"

On Thursday, February 16, Martin Dluhos 2012 will give an overview of the history of free software:

I will talk about the ideas behind the free software movement and open source movement, tell a little bit about the history and evolution of those movements, and mention some of the organizations that are involved in promoting free software. I will conclude with describing the accomplishments of the free software movement, particularly the GNU project.

Refreshments will be served at 4:15 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Noyce 3817). The talk, "Free software and open source software," will follow at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

CS Table, Friday, 13 November 2009: The Economics of Open Source

At CS Table on Friday, 13 November 2009, we will consider economics of Open-Source software. Our primary reading will be a short piece from Joel on Software and an optional piece by Bruce Perens. However, participants are welcome to bring other pertinent readings.

Spolsky, Joel (2002, June 12). Strategy Letter V. Joel on Software. Web page at
Perens, Bruce (2005). The Emerging Economic Paradigm of Open Source Software. Web page at

Grinnell College's CS Table is a weekly gathering of folks on campus (students, faculty, staff, alums, etc.) to talk about issues relating to computer science. CS Table meets each Friday at noon in JRC 224A, the Day Public Dining Room (PDR) in the Joe Rosenfeld '25 Center (JRC). All are welcome, although computer science students and faculty are particularly encouraged to attend.

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