webmaven writes "According to this article in eWEEK, ESR has released a utility called comparator for analyzing the similarity of source code trees. The technical details are interesting, in that ESR says he is using an implementation of a refined version of the 'shred' algorithm, with higher performance (on machines with enough RAM) than other versions. ESR won't say whether he intends the comparator to be used to compare older Unix code to Linux so as to be able to refute SCO's claims, but it's obviously well suited for such a purpose. Interestingly, as the shred algorithm can run reports on source trees using only the MD5 signature shreds (once generated), it is possible to use it to compare trees without direct access to the source code itself, leading to a possible use in comparing various proprietary source trees with each other and with Freely available code bases such as Linux and *BSD without requiring actual disclosure of the proprietary source code (a neutral third party could generate the shreds on a company's premises, and leave without taking a copy of the source with them). I'll be interested to see if (or which of) the proprietary vendors allow their source trees to be 'shredded' for such comparisons, and whether this becomes a standard forensic technique in source-code copyright and trade-secret disputes."
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