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Fedora 9 Would Cost $10.8B To Build From Scratch 293

ruphus13 writes "The Linux Foundation's recently released report claims, '... it would take approximately $10.8 billion to build the Linux community distribution Fedora 9 in today's dollars with today's software development costs.' The article states why this might actually understate the value of the distros, though, since it doesn't include the power of the brand and the goodwill value. 'There were several approaches that the Linux Foundation employed to reach the $10.8 billion dollar figure, including calculating the number of lines of code in Fedora 9 (204,500,946), and using an average programmer's salary of $75,662.08 — as determined by the US Department of Labor — to measure development costs ... On the balance sheets of Coca Cola and many other huge corporations, you find goodwill listed as a major asset.'"
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Fedora 9 Would Cost $10.8B To Build From Scratch

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:09AM (#25481457) like paying airplane manufacturers by weight.

  • I'd rather see... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thered2001 ( 1257950 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:11AM (#25481489) Journal
    ...a similar estimate for the kernel alone. Or, perhaps a more generalized number which would take into account other distros.
  • by Peter Cooper ( 660482 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:18AM (#25481565) Homepage Journal

    I bet if you put the specs on eLance, there'd be a company in Romania somewhere bidding to do it for about $427.33, give or take a few dollars :)

  • Otherwise whatever corporation would have created it for 10.8B would have needed to sell it to nearly 200 million people at 50 bucks a pop to have broken even. Most likely they would have folded.

    What a ridiculous sum pulled completely out of thin air.

    Well its a good initial number. If you would like to refine, go ahead. Yes there are problems with the number. It doesn't take into account the lines of code thrown away, or that you should probably rate lines of code for different programs at different salary levels.

    Even using this approach for the Windows code base would have problems. Just the fact that the code was developed over a period of time and subsets were present in older versions of the code. Also, the cost to rewrite it all from scrap might be cheaper.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:22AM (#25481625) Homepage Journal

    Thats not a fair comparisons of cost.

    Especially since you are comparing lines of code in OSS to lines of code in CSS, Its like comparing 2 fruits, they are close, but not the same.

  • Imagine... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by parvenu74 ( 310712 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:35AM (#25481779)

    Ten billion for an operating system... am I the only one thinking that the money we spend on military adventures and bailing out Wall Street would be better spent funding the creation and development of open source software?

  • But it wouldn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:39AM (#25481863) Journal
    Fedora contains a lot of redundancy. throwing in several text editors makes sense if they're already there and free, but you wouldn't rewrite emacs, joe, Vim and nano. You wouldn't rewrite Epiphany, if you'd rewritten Firefox.

    The number's a lot bigger than it needs to be.
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:43AM (#25481923) Homepage

    > On the balance sheets of Coca Cola and many other huge corporations, you find goodwill
    > listed as a major asset.

    "Good will" is a specialized accounting term when used on balance sheets.

  • Re:But it wouldn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:49AM (#25481999) Homepage

    Sure you would have "re-written" things.

    Windows has/had 3 major competiting brands of office
    productivity software.

    Perhaps it wouldn't have all be developed by the same
    company, but the products themselves would have been
    developed. This just highlights the fact that a Linux
    distro is no so much just an analog for a copy of
    Windows but it also includes a freeware/commercial
    equivalent of a Simtel or Tucows archive DVD.

    This also exposes the real problem of competing with
    Windows or MS-DOS if you are an alternative OS. You
    not only have to compete with the core OS you also
    have to compete with all of the 3rd party apps.

    I'd be curious what the proposed dollar value of the
    entire Ubuntu software repository "multiverse" would

  • Re:Imagine... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Siberwulf ( 921893 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:52AM (#25482053)
    I'm not in the military, so I'm speaking out of my ass here.

    The last time I checked, you couldn't stop a suicide bomber by throwing a copy of Fedora 9 at them.
  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:54AM (#25482085)
    ...approximate 1400 lines of code/y. Not very impressive.

    You forget all the other parts of a major project. Analyze, design, test. Those take people and hours away from simply pounding out lines of code.
  • Salary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:59AM (#25482181) Homepage Journal

    When reading this, I couldn't help but wish _I_ got paid that much money. The figure I get from sloccount ($55K) seems high, but this is even higher than that! Anybody want to make me an offer?

  • Re:Grinding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:03AM (#25482223) Homepage Journal

    If I had a nickle for every time I heard a geek claim Aspergers, I'd have roughly 500 cents.

    "A comprehensive assessment involves a multidisciplinary team that observes across multiple settings, and includes neurological and genetic assessment as well as tests for cognition, psychomotor function, verbal and nonverbal strengths and weaknesses, style of learning, and skills for independent living." .. I'm not saying this was not done for you specifically. But generally when I hear someone claiming this, it is some bullshit self diagnosis and means nothing.

    as for #2 and #3, I'm sorry to hear that. I symapthize

  • In all seriousness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JDub87 ( 1391689 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @11:26AM (#25482505)
    Going by this metric... how much did it cost to develop windows? How much did it actually cost?
  • Re:But it wouldn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:03PM (#25483041)

    ...but you wouldn't rewrite emacs...

    Which existed *long* before Linux was a twinkle in Linus' eye - as did many of the tools used to create Linux (like GCC, and other GNU utilities).

    Not to troll, but if Linux wasn't around, we wouldn't build it from scratch, we'd simply use something else - like BSD, which was also here before Linux.

  • Re:Average salary? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:39PM (#25484487)

    It's also quite easy to do a 90 day trial for a job to evaluate performance. Many places do this and something similar. An acquaintance of mine started out working at Google as a contract worker - he works for the company for a limited amount of time (a year, I believe), and then they evaluate him at the conclusion of that time period and see if they want to bring him on board.

    He now proudly sports his e-mail as he's a full-time employee. He's working for a good company and Google knows they have a good worker.

    Back in my father's day, you'd walk into a store and a manager might try you out for a few weeks and see how you do. If he liked you, he'd keep you on as a full-time employee. If not, he'd have the courtesy to offer you to quit instead of firing you. It's more expensive than just looking at applications and taking a guess, but this is how some of the best businesses get a high percentage of high quality employees.

    Nowadays it's an all-or-nothing prospect - usually start someone full time and at their full wage (or not) based on their application and interview alone. I think that's pretty bass ackwards.

  • real cost? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:58PM (#25484773)
    So, if you minus the lines of code that RedHat/Fedora didn't write (upstream projects developers' code), and added in the amount of man-hours associated with packaging/debugging/patching these packages, I wonder what they'd be at.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2008 @02:19PM (#25485103)

    No, don't. GP kind of missed the point. TFA is not suggesting that programmers should be payed by lines of code (IOW it's not to encourage verbosity) but it is using it as a fairly good predictor of actual costs.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel