10/22/2006

Quality in Opensource software

There have always been a lot of arguments and discussions on how Opensource software lacks in quality and how Opensource software vendors make money on support contracts by deliberately keeping the software complex. There are proponents on both sides of the spectrum and the many bands that fall in between. Personally, I fall in a band that aligns itself closer to the ideology that "Opensource software is good".

MySQL's CEO Marten Mickos had something interesting to say about Opensource software that really appealed to me. He claimed that Opensource software would in general be of "better quality" than closed source software not just because of the community involved in developing it, but also because of the magical combination of pride and (fear of) shame experienced by developers as their work could be scruitised in public by others. His analogy was even more interesting :). The analogy is that of your backyard. Our backyard (in general) is never as tidy as the frontyard of our house. We keep our frontyards cleaner than our backyards because we are "socially" visible there. Same with software, developers don't want to show their dirty linen in public..oops i meant code in public, and so will work hard in keeping the code good.

Additionally he adds, the reality of the scrutiny, i.e. the peer reviews, ensure that a lot of bugs and defects are detected and removed early and claims that Opensource s/w is 12 times cleaner than closed source!! Interesting perspective, isn't it?

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