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Does Open Source Need Quality Standards? 223

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the if-it-compiles-it-works-right dept.
underpar writes "This Techworld.com article reports that a UK group called the Open Source Consortium is being officially launched today. The article further states that the goal of the group is to respond to claims that switching to open source is more expensive than using Microsoft products and to help smaller companies compete with Sun and IBM for open source contracts. They say they will not compete with other open source groups and they intend to eventually come to the US. The hype-filled about us section of their site says their Quality Standard Certification provides a "simple framework for self-assessment and performance improvement." The question of whether this is useful or even wanted in the US still remains to be answered."
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Does Open Source Need Quality Standards?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:06PM (#10945488)
    Does Open Source Need Quality Standards?

    Some open source projects do (carrier grade linux; linux in medical devices).

    Others don't (screen savers, C# clones(to match MSFT's Quality Standards), etc)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:12PM (#10945563)
      Another dumb overgenralization is that this organization think that their " Quality Standard Certification" is appropriate for a wide range of products.

      Linux in medical devices should have follow FDA standards

      Linux in automotive systems shouldd follow DOT standards.

      Linux in voting machines should follow Diebold/MS-Access quality standards..

      (sorry for the US-centric examples - for your own country pick your favorite certification organizations)

      • by Kick the Donkey (681009) <kickthedonkey.gmail@com> on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:35PM (#10945815) Homepage Journal
        Linux in voting machines should follow Diebold/MS-Access quality standards..

        And those standards, would be... non-existant?

        • Nope - it is much more stringent than that.

          They must be very very very secu^H^H^H^H easy to steal the election with :-)
        • The BSOD is a standard as far as it goes.

          "In the crapper" and "Runs once out of ten tries" are "quality standards" just not excessively hard to achieve.

          Yea, that sounds funny, but I am not joking. If you have ever worked with government or mission critical systems you know that there are whole ranges of "quality standards" that properly hinge on all sorts of factors and properly "only go so far".

          You have been conditioned to see those two words and automagically think nine-nines-of-uptime or zero-errors
        • No, they're there... standards like integration and ease-of-use. You know... the kind of standards that make Windows what it is today... ... a target for viruses, spyware, and vandalism.
    • by passthecrackpipe (598773) * <passthecrackpipe&hotmail,com> on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:36PM (#10945827)
      Not only an overgenralisation, it is a redundant idea to boot. OSDL already provides a lot of the stuff they publicly talk about - code quality etc. The real purpose of the organisation comes to light when you read deeper into the site.

      You need to be skilled in their "consulting framework" [openforumeurope.org] and you need to conform to some "financial framework" as well. Their membership criteria are mysterious (hint, you probably need to be a member of their club of buddies) and some of the organisations that are members (and knowing those organisations intimately, they probably are the drivers behind this thing as well) are decidedly dodgy - Open Forum Europe has publicly spoken as "Open Source Representatives" and as such, have signed a declaration supporting software patents [theregister.co.uk]. Looks to me like just another group of people trying to corner a market. Anyone remember the Open Group, and the "good" they did for UNIX? (another hint - a lot of the same people are involved)

      This is so much the wrong crowd to hang out with....
      • than real concern with code quality. The real driver behind ISO9000 and all such quality initiatives is to provide a paper trail to prove "it isn't my fault". Some customers like this, because when something breaks, they can say to their boss/shareholders/whatever "I did the right thing I bought from an ISO9000 company".

        The other part to this is being able to make an elite club (ie those inside "quality" vs those "outside"). Such levels of exclusivity fly in the face of what Open Source stands for.

    • Good to see "Dumb overgeneralization" modded to +5 right off the bat. Other replies in this thread also deserve "insightful" moderation.

      Software should be held to whatever quality standards the customer requires, regardless of it's proprietary or open development process.

      For products where quality IS important, published documentation, including source, code-change-history, published test-cases and results of running those tests cases, etc. can help ensure quality. Commercial outfits typically rely on
    • Agreed. The other issue I see here is the credibility of OSC compared to that of IBM's, Novell's, Red Hat's and the likes.

      Not that I think OSC does not have credibility - I just don't know about that - but am wondering as to who would bean counters trust more when they sign cheques?

      • Nothing has quality. Open sourced or Not. This capitalist society is just obsessed with pumping out new versions every week.

        IF we all halt all software development TODAY. There is enough software to last till the next millenium. Everybody just rushes new versions out cause they could.

  • open source != linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:08PM (#10945510)
    Just because Linux is under the GPL which is an OSI aproved license does not mean that anything that has to do with open source has to be about linux.
  • I think they do... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by akaina (472254) * on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:08PM (#10945513) Journal
    ... and rumor has it they're experimenting with this quality assurance idea called 'pier review'
    • by ctr2sprt (574731) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:13PM (#10945582)
      Is that where they test Linux by throwing it in the ocean? Much like testing Windows by defenestrating it?
      • Is that where they test Linux by throwing it in the ocean? Much like testing Windows by defenestrating it?

        Thankfully penguins are good swimmers. On the other hand, contrary to marketing, Windows XP does not, in fact, allow you to fly.

        Chalk up another win for Linux.

        Jedidiah.
    • Is there where if your code is not great quality, you actually get thrown off a pier by the code reviewers ?

      I knew the code acceptance barrier was high, but man, that is brutal ...
  • by miltimj (605927) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:08PM (#10945514)
    I like the dedication to quality evidenced in their About Us page:

    We are a not-for-profit organisation which guarantees the the quality of open source deployments in the public sector (emphasis mine)
  • by fembots (753724) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:09PM (#10945529) Homepage
    Short answer is YES, almost everything needs a certain level of quality standards for widespread use. Even MS has its own quality standards :)

    However, who is to set these standards and who is to govern them is another question.

    I have a subtle feeling that Open Source = Freedom, that's probably why we see so many forks and distros because "I would have done this that way, and I could".

    So what is to stop a "US Open Source Consortium" being officially launched tomorrow because another group of developers have different idea on Open Source's quality standards?

    Can Linus the most influential man [slashdot.org] gives a single, authoritative guideline?
    • by MoonFog (586818) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:15PM (#10945606)
      Nothing will stop them. If US companies want to listen to the US Open Source Consortium as you name it, then they will. If European companies want to listen more to another OSC, then they are free to to do so. Is this necessarily a bad thing? As long as there is some kind of control and legitimacy over these consortiums, this can be good. Establishing 15 different consortiums within one country just because some developers disagree would probably be overkill though.
    • It looks like my days of charging my clients $350/hr to "maintain" their open source solution (while I'm actually reading Slashdot or Porn) are numbered.

      It also looks like my days of receiving lucrative MS funding for using me as a case study to show that a single Open Source implementor is way more expensive than a dozen MCSEs are also numbered.

      And to think, that MS was going to pay off my 3rd house and 2nd Porsche next week if only I would get up in front of national TV and announce how glad my company
  • Be Careful (Score:3, Insightful)

    by omghi2u (808195) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:09PM (#10945531) Journal
    Be careful what you wish for.

    Something "free" or "cheap" might be so for a reason.

    I still say best open source is that tied to proprietary hardware then you really cash in.

    As for la-dee-dah software, operating systems, etc, I stay away from those.
    • "I still say best open source is that tied to proprietary hardware then you really cash in."

      Huh? Please restate this and say from who's perspective this is the best. The seller? The buyer? Examples? Are you thinking of Apple?
    • Re:Be Careful (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lxt518052 (720422)
      Something "free" or "cheap" might be so for a reason.

      I would call that FUD.

      Just because it's free or cheap doesn't mean it's inferior in quality. Similarly, being expensive doesn't guarantee the quality would be good either.

      Actually, for example, *BSDs are arguably the best network operating system and they are free. It is those overpriced proprietary OSes made by you-know-who that are riddled with bugs and security problems.

      Software products do not suffer from resource scarcity like traditional commo

  • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:09PM (#10945536) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:
    Our quality standard certification is an ideal route for Open Source Consultancies who wish to be recognised for taking the first steps to implementing a formal quality management system. The OSC Business Standard makes an ideal first step on the road to ISO 9001 or the Excellence Model.
    So, this is for consultancies, not software.

    More to the point, isn't ISO 9001 one of those standards where you prove your ``quality'' by committing to following a process, and documenting that you do indeed follow that process? The inevitable result is that you can commit to shooting your customer in the foot, and document that you have done so, and earn the highest ``quality'' rating for it. That sort of ``quality'' isn't very reassuring.

    • by Simon Lyngshede (623138) <simonNO@SPAMspiceweasel.dk> on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:30PM (#10945750) Homepage
      Yes, basicly ISO 9001 just states that your capable of producing the small shit over an over again. It's a more a proces standard than a quality standard. Oh, and in the UK, you can advertise that your product is good because it's ISO 9001 certified.

      If they want to addresse the issue of quality in open source software, there is a lot they need to consider. Most importantly... what do they mean by quality? What represents good quality in one project, may not be relevant to others.

      • by SoSueMe (263478)
        "If they want to addresse the issue of quality in open source software, there is a lot they need to consider. Most importantly... what do they mean by quality? What represents good quality in one project, may not be relevant to others."

        Sticking with the "ISO" flavour, ISO 9126 [cse.dcu.ie] defines software quality characteristics as Functionality, Reliability, Usability, Efficiency, Maintainability and Portability
      • it's not the product that's ISO 9001 certified... it's the process... The certification now means that you have a process for establishing where you are going wrong and that you are doing something about it... you're probably thinking about the old version of ISO 9000 series (the 1996 version). Things have changed quite a bit now.
        • ISO 900x is a smoke screen. The number of certified (and financial) companies for whom I've worked where a 'Backup' folder on the 'S:' drive is supposed to be the saviour if anything goes wrong is just laughable. And the reviews and checks to see if your company is conforming to ISO900x? Hah! Does anyone (except maybe the CTO) ever see these guys? And if you do, do you pipe up in front of the IT director/CTO/CIO/, "They're all BS-ing you Mr. Inspector. It's all a crock of crap, the 'S:' drive is nearl
    • implementing a formal quality management system

      Wasn't it George Carlin who said: "We need quality control, after all who would want to have quality get out of control!".

    • Slow down cowboy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gosand (234100) on Monday November 29, 2004 @04:30PM (#10946343)
      The inevitable result is that you can commit to shooting your customer in the foot, and document that you have done so, and earn the highest ``quality'' rating for it. That sort of ``quality'' isn't very reassuring.


      Don't know much about Quality, do you?


      I'll speak of these things in general, since they are essentially the same types of certifications (ISO, CMM, etc). If your customer agrees to be shot in the foot, and you shoot him in the foot, then the quality of that release is right on the money. One of the things that people miss (or fake) when implementing these processes is that they try to cut corners and fake-out the process. These certifications usually require that you get customer commitment to process changes. That means you keep your customer in the loop of communication. Therefore, you get them to agree to things and hold them to it. Customers don't usually like that, they love to wiggle and worm their way around commitments. But if you follow these processes, you can get them to document their commitment. They aren't very happy when they are called on the fact that they get exactly what they asked for, but in the end the point is to make them happy by getting them to ask for what they really want.


      Everyone loves to put down things like the CMM and Six Sigma, because they "don't work". Just because you worked somewhere where it didn't work doesn't mean the models don't work, it means you didn't do them very well. And they aren't easy to do well, they take effort. Most places will cut corners and fake the behavior that they think will let them slide by to get a certification, then they will usually go right back to doing what they want. There is a difference to "getting to certification level X" and "operating at certification level X".


      And the real definition of quality is the delta between what the customer expects and what is delivered.

  • Then who would test the beta/non-working versions of new projects?
  • Not a problem... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danielrm26 (567852) * on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:11PM (#10945560) Homepage
    Certifications like this are often welcome in corporate environments where names and packaging often matter as much or more than the product.

    Even if OSS is better in a lot of cases, many managers can't politically afford to introduce it because of the climate that exists in the still largely Windows-controlled world.

    Any sort of ... anything that lends credibility to OSS is, in my book, a good thing. So if this takes off and acts as some sort of benchmark for quality that people can rely on, I say more power to them.
    • Certifications like this are often welcome in corporate environments where names and packaging often matter as much or more than the product.

      In a rational organization, the name means something because everyone knows that stuff from that company always rocks.

      Debian is a good name and they have documentation to back up their processes. It should not be hard to turn that documentation into sound QC. The process already works and any rational organization should be able to point to it and say, "those guys

  • by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:11PM (#10945562) Journal
    If you have not had Six Sigma training, you might be baffled about what it is.

    If you have had Six Sigma traning, then you are definitely baffled about what it is.

    • The first rule of Six Sigma: you don't talk about Six Sigma.
    • I turned down the opportunity to take Six Sigma training. After the damage my brain went through during out CMM initiative, I don't think I could handle any more quality improvement. For those that don't know, CMM stands for "Crazy Madness Model", which rates companies by who baffling their software development processes are. If your developers still have time to code, you aren't doing CMM right.
      • I turned down the opportunity to take Six Sigma training.

        We weren't given the choice. :-(

        So now I have to apply methods that were developed for the prodcution of millions of commodity items to my R&D development of unique and singular prototypes. Hah?

        I am in Hell.

      • And I've worked with a number of companies in India that were all CMM Level 5 (or whatever the mantra is). All screwed upright royally (does an almost unreadable and buggy 637 line Javascript function on a Web page [not an include] conform to CMM level 5?).
  • In other news... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:12PM (#10945564) Homepage
    Scientists wonder:

    Do bears shit in the woods?

    Is the pope Catholic?
  • .... we want something like that here. We have Microsoft and SCO.
  • YES, it does (Score:4, Informative)

    by DoktorTomoe (643004) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:14PM (#10945595)
    I think we all agree that a business world based on OpenSource would be preferable to a Windows-centric system. To achieve this, high-quality-business solutions have to be written and found. I am running my own business and am using Linux on 5 machines. There is some old Mac, but I do not really use it anymore. To please the Finanzamt (the german IRS), you have to file reports, do some accounting etc. This has proven very difficult for me when I tried it with OpenOffice. So I searched for business software, e.g. accounting suits, ERP and CRM-Software. I tried for over 2 months and have compiled about 100 different approaches - but all of them were either abandoned, not scaleable to other countries needs (I cannot use spanish tax forms) or they simply didn't work the way they where supposed to do (I even had an KDE program that was published with internal static linking to the programmers home directory!). I finally settled with lxoffice (http://www.lxoffice.org), which is fairly scaleable and where 95% of the system works, but it was a hard fight. While I am accepting such situations as a hobbyist, as a business owner that's lots of time I am not paid for. Quality control could help in such situations, helping users choose reliable software. And yes, I'd be willing to pay for it.
  • YES !!!

    And it needs to stick to them. Microsoft may produce buggy insecure code but I'm fed up of finding bugs in Open Source software and being told 'what do you expect, it's free'.

    Ed Almos
    Budapest, Hungary
    • I totally agree. I have had several bad experiences with Firefox, for example. I've reported them on both Slashdot and Mozillazine (e.g. this Slashdot comment [slashdot.org]). And since then I've found other problems, such as repeatedly hanging when installing plug-ins.

      Some of the responses are just stupid, such as claiming that I don't know how to press the "+" key [slashdot.org], or calling me a troll. Hardly anyone--except Mac users--wants to acknowledge that my experience is real: Firefox is even more buggy than IE6 (my previ

      • I have had several bad experiences with Firefox, for example. I've reported them on both Slashdot and Mozillazine (e.g. this Slashdot comment). And since then I've found other problems, such as repeatedly hanging when installing plug-ins.

        Some of the responses are just stupid, such as claiming that I don't know how to press the "+" key, or calling me a troll.


        And what the heck do you expect people on Slashdot to do about it?

        Did you try filing bugs in bugzilla to alert the Mozilla developers of these probl
    • >And it needs to stick to them. Microsoft may produce buggy insecure code but I'm fed up of finding bugs in Open Source software and being told 'what do you expect, it's free'.

      Well, what *do* you expect, given that it's free? Or more precisely, what do you expect a quality standards organization to do to address the issue? No organization would have the ability to compel developers to fix bugs or compel volunteers to do proper quality evaluations.
    • Microsoft may produce buggy insecure code but I'm fed up of finding bugs in Open Source software and being told 'what do you expect, it's free'.

      So you'd prefer to pay big bucks for your software instead, find bugs in it, and then be ignored when you complain to the software company?
  • by DarthWiggle (537589) <sckiwi@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:14PM (#10945603) Journal
    Based on the amount of abandoned projects, weak support, buggy code, inconsistent UI, and so forth I've seen in projects that were "neat ideas", I'd say yes, some standards would be useful. Especially when there are projects like Firefox, OpenOffice, and Gaim to carry the banner (plus many other lower-profile projects).

    OSS still has a bit of a reputation of being "kids in basements wearing black t-shirts hacking out amateur software surrounded by Matrix screen savers" and not always undeservedly.

    But not always deservedly either. And some sort of cert program (I leave to people smarter than I am the how, where, and when of certification) could be helpful. Would it make it more difficult for an innovative project to take root? Well, yes, but that would be the point, and it would guard against projects that are abandoned when, for example, their creators graduate from university.

    I'm a big fan of Free software, btw.
    • "OSS still has a bit of a reputation of being "kids in basements wearing black t-shirts hacking out amateur software surrounded by Matrix screen savers" and not always undeservedly."

      I guess I am so old that I remember when all software for microcomputers was hacked out by kids in in basements wearing "Art of Noise" t-shirts surrounded by DnD books.
      • Based on your 5-digit id, you must be positively ancient. :) Hell, I remember printing out Star Trek ASCII art with my VAX time on a "computer" in the basement of a college library.

        I'm not proud.. I'm just sayin'.

        Anyway, there's some real genius in those basements (then and now), but to be a saleable product, there needs to be SOME sort of ... context.
  • Linux _IS_ quality (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PhYrE2k2 (806396)
    Linux is quality. By having publicly available code, we can all make sure it's up to our standards. If it's not, then you are welcome to (a) not use it, or (b) fix it. So why the concern? Contribute to the community and all is well. There's no barrier to helping (such as improving a country). But seriously, Linux has proven itself worthy of being quite stable and for the most part secure (problems are bound to happen in such a large block of code, but responsible repair is key). Same with the core ap
    • by MHV (547208)
      You're so out of the loop, it's not even fun: yes everyone can fix it blah blah blah. But by WHAT standard can we say YES or NO is it good? It is a perfectly admirable and vital aspect of such software that it is open for modification, but the point of the idea is that you want to determine once and for all if such and such software complies with a specific set of requirements, expectations, behaviour, name it. The point in the end is to have software that is determined beyond its mere existence: if you kno
      • A 'quality standard' (Score:2, Informative)

        by PhYrE2k2 (806396)
        You are mistaking a 'standard' (such as TCP/IP) with a 'quality standard'. One can make a program to follow a specific protocol, but that doesn't make it a good program at all.

        We're talking about quality. How good is the finished product compared to its usage. Is a mission-critical application actually going to be stable? Does your application spend most of its time in spin locks? The quality is in the method of the implementation. A web server can answer HTTP requests without trouble, but will is do
    • I know fine well that I can inspect the source code of every app running on my laptop, but the despite being a capable coder... i dont. Partly I don't have time and partly I dont care enough.

      I'm happy with the mindset of "other people use it so it must be pretty solid".

      However, businesses don't really think that way. It makes sense to have a badge that individual distributions use that assures managers that it's reached a particular standard of quality.

      Of course in practice that's highly non-trivial.
      • Re:Who's standards (Score:2, Interesting)

        by PhYrE2k2 (806396)
        Of course.

        I don't spend my time reviewing others' code unless it is, for example, a smaller tool which is of importance (a third party suexec wrapper for example, or a rare Apache module from a less than perfect source).

        My point was that:
        1. We can if we want to. If something is that important, you at least take a quick look at it to see if any care was taken. This may be more so in smaller projects such as a perl script.
        2. If you're not hiding it from other people, you're not ashamed of your potenti
        • I agree with you completely.

          It would be nice however if there was an independant body who could certify application versions and kernels. They could assess reliability, interoperability and general code standards.

          I know that's essentially what redhat do, but as more closed source linux apps and linux hardware come out, it'd be a bonus to be able to have an "Designed for Linux 2.6" badge and have an assurance that it'd all work.
          • Re:Who's standards (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PhYrE2k2 (806396)
            I'll give you that, but for every binary decision, you're going to piss off roughly half the people.

            There are security analysts who do spend time looking at the kernel, but it's a big job. As with most of these projects, they usually start becomes someone pays a security company to spend millions auditing it (ie: a government wanting to use it for sensitive data or voting machines). If only we could get every linux user to do one line of code *smirk* :)
            BTW: FHS is an attempt at getting some standardiz
  • by timothy (36799) * on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:18PM (#10945645) Homepage Journal
    "Who is this 'We,' paleface?"

    Lots of people are quick to say that someone else's work "needs" something. My car needs its cupholder in a sane spot, instead of so it just about blocks the radio buttons. It's true, but that's not exactly a demand on the car maker. Just a hint ... MR. SUBARU!

    Sometimes it's hypothetical and prescriptive; "Red Hat needs to compete in the market X, so it needs to advertise in trade publication Z and add the de-pre-mux-defrobnostication patch that this special niche requires." Fine :)

    Other times, the "need" is expressed as an imperative, when the speaker has no standing to demand anything ("The GIMP interface needs to change!") etc, or (as in the headline here) where there is no single Thing to change. "Open Source" covers a huge range; it's like "Things that have the letter R." It's true that some of these things (like Catherine Zeta Jones) are beautiful, but it it does not follow that all things with "R" better our existence in quite the same way.

    It's perfectly nice and positive and welcome etc that someone has decided to promulgate what they consider higher standards of quality for "Open Source" -- as long as everyone realizes that only a certain subset of open source software can be scrutinized by any given such body, that developers may have their own ideas (even if they are not universally popular, and even if they have no intention of following someone else's ideas of UI perfection), that open source's great advantage in this context is that UIs are a) frequently separate from the underlying code and b) forkable.

    timothy

    • Exactly. What other industries have any kind of standards for an abstract a concept as quality? None I can think of. The pharmaceutical industry has standard on safety and efficacy, but those are words you can actually define and measure. Quality is an abstract and widely subjective concept.

      The problem here lies in the concept of "quality standards". That's almost a contradiction in terms. In essence Quality is a value judgement and cannot be standardized, only made an opinion. That doesn't mean
    • Lots of people are quick to say that someone else's work "needs" something. My car needs its cupholder in a sane spot, instead of so it just about blocks the radio buttons. It's true, but that's not exactly a demand on the car maker. Just a hint ... MR. SUBARU!

      I was rather surprised the other day to actually discover that my car does have cupholders... they weren't obvious... I only found them when I accidently pushed against what appeared to be a solid divider between the aircon and the radio and they pop

  • standards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eille-la (600064) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:21PM (#10945673)
    F/OSS needs more unified standards first! (like for packages).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:21PM (#10945680)
    Certain versions of embedded and server Linux had already passed the Telecom Carrier Grade Reliability Test. Carrier Grade Linux is 99.999% Reliable. Any Window is NOT Telecom Carrier Grade Reliable. Microsoft won't even try because it will fail.
  • nit-picking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Errtu76 (776778) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:24PM (#10945703) Journal
    While i could care less about w3c compliant, *if* you decide to put up a link to w3c, checking valid xml stuff, make sure it's actually valid ;)
  • Do we need standards that pertain to quality or standards that themselves have quality? :)
  • by Nijika (525558) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:25PM (#10945713) Homepage Journal
    Ugh, sorry for the marketing like speak, but I feel like the quality standards in OSS are dictated in an "organic" way. Where the best software bubbles to the top, and the quality is assured by continued participation in quality software. Look at Apache. Look at the Linux and BSD kernels. KDE, anything. All of them have organic style quality controls where the community dictates just what is quality.

    I can imagine an organized group like this, though, would be excellent at answering issues like corporate generated FUD in an organized and coherent way. That's our big problem, we lack representation (not counting eccentric geniuses with big ZZ top beards).

  • Standards are needed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Searinox (833879)
    If FOSS is to conquer the end user market, there must be quality standards for usability (giving the system a polished look) and documentation. Many projects already are quite good at the documentation but a lot lack usablility in terms of "I'm coming from windows and I want at least a bit comfort by configuring the system via a GUI". That's not my opinion (I like the config-file-style) but it's how less technically experienced people think. And this is, after all the group of people that should be careful


  • We are a not-for-profit organisation which guarantees the the quality of open source deployments in the public sector by setting professional standards and bonding its members.

    AFBCD (Another Fucking Barber College Diploma)

    More info on stinkin badges [nyud.net].

  • by Dammital (220641) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:29PM (#10945748)
    "We are a not-for-profit organisation which guarantees the the (sic) quality of open source deployments..."
    Sure am glad they're watching out for quality.
  • SQA is needed. (Score:3, Informative)

    by ichigo (832988) on Monday November 29, 2004 @03:34PM (#10945805)
    SQA is essentially one of the most important aspects in software engineering. Depending on the nature of a software, open source or not, SQA is definitely a must and key to developing software that meets the needs of the intended end-users without sacrifycing quality. What's the point of having a software that has fancy features of this and that and yet crashes every now and then?

    SQA helps to validate the software whether it is developed up to certain acceptable standards like whether it's functioning the way it supposed to, does it go berserk and stop functioning after the user keys in certain kind of data, etc.

    Just because a software is open source and free, I see no reason why the quality should be compromised especially the operating systems, office productivity and development tools.

    And so I really feel this Quality Standard Certification is needed, I mean just look at the numbers of governments and organizations is using Windows OS despite it's many flaws compared to the number of Linux OS adoption. The reasoning for this that "Linux is harder to use" is lame - it's obviously because of it's reputation and that Microsoft gave "quality assurance" to their product. What about Linux? Is there concrete proof that Linux is better that will convinced the government and the organization that it is a better OS?
  • by Stevyn (691306) on Monday November 29, 2004 @04:14PM (#10946177)
    I tend to think of OSS as a war between different developers to see who's idea will be favored by the market. For too many years, implementation of ideas was up to some PHB. The problems of that system are starting to show. The idea that "well, it may not be the best way to do it, but at least we can all agree to do it this way" goes against the idea that the best solution will come out on top.

    I think developers should continue to try new ideas and do it their way. If nobody likes their idea, their software won't be used and it won't matter.

    The market will adjust. It may not be elegant or convenient to juggle several different packaging systems, for example, but people are doing it. Eventually, the best packaging system will come out on top because people chose to use it, not become some standards organization decided it was best.

    These past few years of OSS have shown some pretty neat ideas in a short amount of time. I think it's going to improve at a faster rate in the next few years.
  • Quality standards in Linux would go against the mantra of "Release early and release often". A good open source project shoul dbe first release at the time it shows promise, even if it has kinks in it to allow other open source developers to pick it up and contribute. Once the project is matured, then it is okay to add a "stable" release stream (like Linux even-versions) to complement the "hacker" releases (like Linux odd-versions), but in order for an open source project to produce quality code, it must
    • There are few things you said that I can agree with, except your call for a method of release and those already exist. Organizations like Debian and Red Hat have well defined means of deciding what software will be recommended as default and those recommendations don't get in the way of including other free sotware projects. That process itself is a reasonable standard that is not destructive.

  • Interestingly, many of the pages at the OSC web site do not validate using the W3C XHTML validation link at the bottom of all the pages.
  • to Microsoft?

    I'm glad to see the majority of posters so far have chosen to miss the point of the article, and to miss the point of the Consortium.

    8^)

    For what it's worth, the Consortium consists of 'close to the community' F/L/OSS businesses in the UK who have got together to promote FLOSS to the UK government and Public Sector.

    How do I know this?

    Because I started the process.

    We have been communicating with various parts of the UK Gov and Public Sector for months. The International Secretary of Socitm
  • It's pure vapor until enough early adopters buy into it.

    Then it's extortion by unelected, unregulated authority.

    "If you have ISO certification, you'll be better than everyone else" quickly turns to "If you're not ISO certified, you'll be perceived as a fly-by-night operation."
  • Does a fish need water? Does a bear shit in the woods? Do /. members need Thorazine? Ok, maybe only this /. member needs it.

    Anyway, the resounding answer to this is an emphatic YES !!!

  • by upsidedown_duck (788782) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:41PM (#10948983)

    Seriously, if a programmer can't even put forth the effort to make autoconf work on more than one platform, then they won't have the time to spend on "quality standards." I've seen professional programmers spout "best practices" out of their asses for a long time, and, when it comes time to produce something, they are just as fast and loose as anyone. The reason: talk is cheap. quality is very hard.

  • My company has looked at Open Source alternatives for some technology. We are subject to stringent certification process for our aviatoin software. The quality of Open Source code (programming habits, style, algorithms), the comments, the organization, makes use of Open Source a no-go.
  • Look - what I like about open source is the quality that comes from peer review and years of incremental improvement. This idea of certifying open source packages is NOT A GOOD THING if you like to get your project seeded into corporations. If the certification exists doors may close to projects that are not QUALITY CERTIFIED(TM). It creates a barrier to entry for new projects and an unnecessary expense for FOSS development.

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