Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Superiority of FLOSS

  • Feb 24 / 2012
  • 6
technology

Superiority of FLOSS

I have been writing software since 1968. I can remember the day I first wrote a few pages of code that was correct on the first draft. It took years to accomplish that for simple codes. Humans just are prone to errors. We mis-type. We mis-think. We are off by one and in the wrong place and add when we should subtract. That’s reality.

In the world of IT, most users of software rely on someone else to supply software. That makes sense. It’s specialization, one of the greatest inventions of humans, to have experts do what they do best. Naturally, we pay experts well. That applies to programmers and software projects as well. Out of this has grown global mega-corporations supposedly providing good software for everyone to run on their PCs.

The typical model breaks down for several reasons:

  • the larger the organization or the software, the more it is prone to errors/bugs,
  • mega-corporations need to produce large codes simply so they can sell the next big thing once everyone who will buy a copy of the old one has done so,
  • mega-corporations are also run by businessmen, lawyers, accountants, salesmen and not usually by programmers who are busy programming,
  • mega-corporations spend a lot of effort to become monopolies so they don’t have anyone left to compete with them and anything they produce will sell because people need something…,
  • in a monopoly, the supplier can charge whatever he wants with whatever features he wants at any price he wants, and
  • good software requires new ideas from time to time. New ideas rock the boat at mega–corporations and are discouraged.

We’ve been through decades of M$ and its partners pushing really lousey software because they had a monopoly. FLOSS was there all along but it could not succeed in the market because of sweet back-room deals and exclusions and restrictions. FLOSS survives because the world needs software and can make its own.

FLOSS is superior by all measures, too. Bugs per thousand lines of code, for instance. Lines of code per applications, too. Cost per application. FLOSS is good stuff. If you haven’t tried it, get yourself a computer and visit Debian GNU/Linux.

According to the latest survey by Coverity, FLOSS trumps non-free software in code qualty. That’s reality in spite of what some ugly commentators state here. The reasons are obvious to anyone who thinks about it. If your priority is to produce good code, it will happen. FLOSS is not intent on propping up a monopoly, or locking-in customers or making megabucks, just good code.

6 Comments

  1. oiaohm

    coverity.com they do yearly reports on quality scans across open source project compared to commercial.

    You can get reports from 2008 2009 2010 and 2011.

    http://www.coverity.com/library/pdf/coverity-scan-2011-open-source-integrity-report.pdf

    So yes just like commercial companies open source projects do get third party reviews.

    The defect number is dropping.

    Postgresql PHP and Linux Kernel all in 2011 got first level achievement.

    Applications with second and third level achievement are rare. Postgresql is well on way to reaching second.

    So there has to be some good code in those 3 project or making first level achievement would not be possible.

  2. oldman

    “Aaaand the winbred slinks away, tail between his legs. Well done Mr. Pogson.”

    So the great Adam Q. King has deigned to notice the modest post of an oldman. No Mr. King I did not slink away tail between leg. I am trying to keep my weekends computer as computer free as possible in order to spend more time with my family. Of course, you might not know about family responsibilities living in mommy’s basement.

    As far as Pog’s “Answer” is concerned, the short reply would be…

    As I said, let me know when you actually find some good code.

    But that would not be fair to the conversation that Pog and I have been having these past few years, nor would it really do justice to the points I have been attempting to make in my responses.

    So I shall go away now and think a bit and return with the real post.

    Stay tuned.

  3. Robert Pogson

    oldman wrote, “as soon as I actually find some good FOSS code, I’ll let you know.”

    Here is some FLOSS I recommend highly:

    1. FreePascal – can compile itself and is the most bug-free stuff on the planet.
    2. ImageMagick – a cool package for image processing from CLI or scripts.
    3. VLC – amazing multimedia player.
    4. LibreOffice – featureful office suite remarkably free of bugs.
    5. dict – wonderful client/server system for dictionaries, thesaurus, etc.
    6. Gimp – for all the non-routine image processing I cannot do with ImageMagick.
    7. ffmpeg – a neat CLI tool for multimedia.
    8. swish-e – a neat programmable full-text indexing and search tool.
    9. mysql, php, apache etc. – all kinds of tools for servers.
    10. Linux – a really neat, flexible and customizable kernel for any operating system
  4. oldman

    “FLOSS is not intent on propping up a monopoly, or locking-in customers or making megabucks, just good code.”

    Well Pog, as soon as I actually find some good FOSS code, I’ll let you know.

Leave a comment