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Open Source: Who Are Those Guys? 93

dfay writes "An interesting article on ZDNet about who makes up the Open Source Movement. Of course, you have to accept the premise that all OSS programmers are tracked in the LSM. Still, I think the overall tone of the piece suggests that OSS developers can be taken at least as seriously as those in the 'industry'." Actually, the article mentions that lots of developers' work, including kernel hacks, don't show up in Linux Software Maps [LSMs]. Still good stuff.
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Open Source: Who Are Those Guys?

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  • One thing to do would be to look for addresses inside the tarballs. Your statistics reflect who is in charge of projects rather than who is contributing to them. It is unsurprising that people only tend to be the primary author of a few programs - it would be much more interesting to see how many people were sending patches and so on.

    Of course, it's much harder to collect those statistics.
  • Yeah, undergrads can't code worth a crap[heavy sarcasm]. Maybe even a majority of them can't code well, but in four years they get a BS and turn into middle aged programmers that can't code worth a lick. These people seem to meet your requirements just fine, don't they? Why don't you target them too? This kind of bigotry isn't needed on /.

    Take a look at that Eros operating system released at my school(UPenn). These guys started it when they were Sophs and Juniors. Short story: you're a very stupid person if you completely discount youth as you have done. College grads and undergrads are a major part of the driving force behind OSS & Linux. I'd be surprised if the majority of Linux's users weren't college students.
  • by davevr ( 29843 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @12:30PM (#1576550) Homepage
    Anyone who gives a casual glance over at Freshmeat can see that most of the software is pretty serious stuff, that requires at least a BS in CS. I mean, come on, your typical teen warez monkey can't even spell HTML, much less write some useful tool for it.

    It seems that there are three conditions needed to get Geeks to write stuff.
    1. It has to be something geeks themselves need (or want).
    2. It has to be something that is not already available to buy (or is too expensive, too limited, or unpurchasable for whatever reason.)
    3. There has to be a particular passion in the geek for creating it.

    Compare this to commercial software:
    1. much commercial software is stuff the users need, not the geeks. Some of it is actually abhorrent to geeks.
    2. Much of it is a newer version of stuff that is already available (i.e., the need is established).
    3. given 1) and 2), there isn't always the passion factor. Therefore, people are paid to write it.

    I don't think that makes commercial software evil - it is just based on very different conditions. Both can exist. It shouldn't surprise anyone that impassioned people can create a better product. But that said, I think people might be surprised at how much passion there IS in commercial software. Most developers I know care quite a bit about their projects. A good developer can work anywhere they want; they have chosen the jobs they have.
  • Feel like hacking Themes into MacOS? How about porting it? Or changing the buttons on the titlebar? Does it come with cool screensavers? Or an integrated file/web browser?

    Some of these are valid points, and I could add some others, like workspaces. (Some I'd question -- I'm writing this in a themed MacOS.) And, hey, I have a PowerCenter at home that I haven't booted into MacOS in months.

    Remember, though, the original assertion was that KDE and GNOME, and Mozilla, Kaffe and Gimp as well, are "clearly better" than any proprietary alternative. Is KDE clearly better? I just don't see that. It's coming along remarkably, but it still doesn't feel like silk beneath my fingers the way the Mac does. Or, for that matter, the way the command line does. (GNOME 1.0 just gave me a headache.)

    Try simply dragging a file from one directory to another in both interfaces. Should that need to pop a menu like it does in KDE? Then there's the way cut-n-paste on the Mac is as robust and universal as standard input/output is in *nix...

  • I have to say that your initial comment about requiring a BS in CS to write code is completely fictional. I am --as referred to by a PhD collegue -- a grunge programmer.
    I am self-taught. I work long days writing code on my linux box that has to run on 3 different platforms.
    I hate school. Every CS teacher I have had with the exception of one does things because other people say it is right, and force that attitude on to their students. School is not necessary for those of above average intelligence who have the motivation and ambition to learn and code.
    I have been coding for 9 years, and I'm 19 years old now. I have been going to college part time since I was 14, to please my dear mother.
    I have yet to learn in school
    I haven't had a teacher show me anything I haven't learned on my own -- the only teacher (above reference) that allowed me to actually use my talents in the course was amazed that at 15 I scored higher in the Advanced C course than anyone in the history of the college.
    School is bullshit with the intent to teach people to code for 'the man'. It prohibits innovation, creativity, and ambition. It teaches that you should code for a job, work 8-5 and go home to your 2.3 kids, surrounded by a white picket fence.
    I have attended 3 colleges, each I have been disappointed with. I gave up, I will finish getting an AS because I'm 8 units away, but I consider the whole experience a huge waste of time. This is offtopic.. but I don't mind.. I enjoy ranting.
    -= Making the world a better place =-
  • You've got a point there. However, when it comes to user interfaces, it's all a matter of opinion. Personally, I think they both suck...

    I think that KDE and GNOME are only better in the sense that at least you can change them, switch between them, or use them together. And that's more a feature of X and window managers that other windowing systems don't have. I think the Gimp is better for my needs. Recent versions of Photoshop seem to have more useless options, and that doesn't help me get anything done. Kaffe is actually pretty good for what it is, there are better virtual machines out there, but this is an area where you really can benchmark and test them. Mozilla is looking very good. In fact, I might make it my default browser sometime, but I figured I'd test out Netscape 4.7 some more. Mozilla and Netscape also have the cross-platform development advantage here.

    I don't want to "drag" files. That's slow. I use fvwm2 and if I need to do file manipulation... well, that's what that "xterm" program is for. To run my shell. :)

    I think dragging a file, or dragging and dropping, is interesting but ultimately limited. If I drag a file and drop it on an executable, that's generally interpreted as: I want to view this file with that executable, or something. If I double-click the file, that's supposed to mean I want to run this file, or I want to run the application that this file is associated with on this file.

    If I drag a file onto another regular file, should that mean I want to join them? If so, how would I split them? Drag and drop them on the split utility? Should it pop up a menu if I might want to use some parameters, or just use the defaults, and screw up the job?

    There are a lot of principles of UI design used for the Mac that I don't necessarily like, and the same goes for a lot of Window Managers in X. All I really want is something to manage the windows, let me set a few options for specific programs, have virtual desktops (preferably with keyboard bindings and no pager) and not clutter the screen with anything I don't want. The last thing I need is a trashcan that's under a window somewhere that I have to use to eject a disk.

    Maybe my perspective on this will change if I ever get a huge screen in a high resolution, but if it does, I'll just change my Window Manager, or extend my current one.
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • The key to the MacOS' usablility is not the titlebars or the button shapes. It's features built into the system that make it act more intutively to regular dumb users.

    + On MacOS you can drag programs around your hard drive, and they will still work (Except MS Office 4.2, but that's a Microsoft product!).

    + You can design your own directory structure in a way that makes sense to you. The parts of the system that you can't move or rename (System Folder) contain files that have understandable names.

    + Installing a driver on MacOS is as simple as putting a file in a folder. Uninstalling works in reverse.

    + Double-clicking and Drag-and-Drop are more likely to produce the desired effect because that's the primary interface into the system.

    + *All* configuration is done in the GUI.

    The bottom line is that these kinds of features will never be in Unix DE, because they're contrary to the way Unix operates. It's likely that KDE or Gnome will equal the 'ease-of-use' of Windows, but without radical changes in the core operating system, it's unlikely that Linux will ever have an environment that equals the Mac in accessiblity for the 'dumb user' population.

    (Of course Apple could be throwing out all of these features with OS X, but we'll see.....)

  • Well, of all of those, double-clicking is the only one I've really been unhappy with on MacOS. Programs will often associate themselves with files that I don't want to open with them, and other files won't have the associations I want. I understand that this point is largely moot nowadays, but it used to be you had to have ResEdit or Norton Utilities for the Mac or something to be able to get any real work done.

    Well, if Apple manages to keep those features around for OS X, then any UN*X should be able to implement them given enough time. But I'll be impressed if they do.
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @12:30PM (#1576561)
    *gurgle* Yeees master....

    Let's see... ZDNet wrote a wonderful article once again.. unhindered by the facts though they may be....

    My list of OSS developers:

    ESR - Wrote some articles. Carries a gun. Has a short temper. Wants somebody to take his job. Probability of going postal (or cobol) within the next 6 months: 75% Could use a beer.

    RMS - Wrote alot of code. Has long hair. Doesn't carry a gun. Gets into frequent fights with ESR anyway. Wishes people would stop calling open source "free". Wants free speech, but not free beer.

    RM - Made some nerds for news site. Drinks lots of free beer.

    WTF - Mythical god of programming. Usually invoked whenever something doesn't work, ie: "WTF, why did you do that?" Drink some beer and he'll go away.

    Linus: Coded the greatest operating system known in 6 days. On the 7th day he rested. We've been releasing new kernels ever since. Claims teenage girls don't throw their underwear at him but we know better. Currently unemployed - "This company is not yet here." He's one reason alot of programmers started drinking. =)

    Alan Cox - Linus' right hand man. Whatever linus breaks, he fixes. Often has a new kernel ready to before you've even finished downloading the present release posted to kernel-dev ten minutes ago. Has long hair. Beer status unknown.


  • Nonsense. I dare you to list all the open-source programs that are clearly better than their commercial counterparts. You won't find many.

    This is going to be fun. Especially since "better" is clearly undefinable.Oh well, here goes.


    Are you kidding?


    You must be kidding!!??!!


    Umm, you're kidding, right!!!???!!!

  • Hmmm, I posted that hurriedly after returning from Friday afternoon drinking and realize I may be jeopardizing precious karma points. To respond more intelligently:
    • Mozilla -- hey, I have great hopes for Mozilla and it should eventually meet my expectations. But today? Clearly better than IE? No way.
    • KDE/GNOME -- I find KDE's progress astounding and I can't wait for 2.0 and KOffice. But is it clearly superior to MacOS, today? No way.
    • Gimp -- clearly superior to Photoshop? Maybe for making Propaganda tiles, but not even close for publishing work.
  • Your kind of both right. I just read the LGPL again, and it states :

    A "library" means a collection of software functions and/or data prepared so as to be conveniently linked with application programs (which use some of those functions and data) to
    form executables.

    And also

    The "Library", below, refers to any such software library or work which has been distributed under these terms.

    The "or work which has been distributed under these terms" seems to imply something other than a library. But the license goes back and forth on this. Every so often it states a "library or other" and then talks only about Libraries.

    This is why I say there should be a LLGPL Lesser Lesser GPL that is writen for normal apps. But can use the LGPL and state that all functions and datatypes in the application act like a "library" and any modifications, for compling and other, are all FREE. I know RMS wouldn't like this, but I sit on the boarder. I like GPL but I don't want you to have to have you own routines GPL to use it with mine. But if you modify mine, I still want that FREE.

    Steven Rostedt
  • our goal was to study one long running, since 1993, open source community. i think that too much data-mingling would be a bad idea. what is really called for, i think, is several discrete studies of separate communities--kernel hackers where the gate keeping is very strong, apache where the gatekeeping is done by a team, etc. then we could have an idea of how these communities operate. i suspect that different gatekeeping and different technical thresholds will yield very different distributions of contributors.
    but we need more focused studies to show that.
  • It may be amusing, but it's not on topic. Hardly one line of the article indicated a lack of understanding of giving open source. The rest was just bad statistics. Why is nobody taking issue with that? And what the hell is going on with moderation that something so mildly amusing and fully off-topic gets a 5?
  • Moderators, Moderate this up. It's a good relief for a Friday afternoon ;)

    Steven Rostedt
  • Yes, but WE DO need IDEs, lots of tose around... --foobar
  • Far from being contrary to the ``way UNIX operates'', a lot of the things you describe are actually not all that far off.

    In UNIX-like environments, you can move programs around and they still work. Programs tend not to be sensitive to their own location. There isn't even a standard API function in POSIX or the UNIX specification for a program to find the location of its own excecutable. In fact, such a function would have to lie, because the executable can be unlinked or renamed while the program is running. What usually matters is that your program's preferences are in some dot-rc file in your home directory or in /etc, and these things can't be moved around without telling the program. (But could you move your Mac application preference settings anywhere?) Now in Windows, on the other hand, there are interfaces to explicitly support the idea of making a program sensitive to its own place in the filesystem. Moreover, there is the concept of putting a program's DLL's in the same directory as the program, so if you don't move all of the components together, it breaks. The registry often contains path names of executables and objects. Sometimes applicatiosn register their own components, and then cannot be moved without reinstallation which will reregister the components.

    About the drivers: installing drivers in Linux is not quite as easy as dragging something to a folder, but it's almost there. Drivers are just files that are typically kept in some special directory structure. If you wanted to, you could set up your system so that you put all your desired drivers into some driver directory, and some script running in the background just loads (via insmod) whatever is in there, and periodically checks for stuff to be removed so that it can do the rmmod---without ever rebooting. A little design would have to go into storing the driver-specific configuration. So you are basically talking about a feature that can be hacked up in half a screenful of a bash script. I wouldn't want to do this because it would be inferior to setting up aliases in /etc/conf.modules.

    It boils down to the remainder of your points which are still true as ever: namely the lack of UI integration for ``dumb'' users. But I suspect it's partly due to the fact that once the difficult systems programming work has been done to the point that someone can hack up some easy script to accomplish something, there is little incentive to sweat out a graphical interface that will in the end be less flexible and therefore less satisfying. That doesn't mean that there is some deep ``UNIX principle'' if you will which rules out the possibility of making graphical interfaces for system configuration and other things.
  • Kaffe

    [...]open source applications that no one would consider replacing with closed clones.

    Oh, this has got to be a joke.

    Microsoft has "partnered" with Transvirtual and funded Microsoft technologies to be added to Kaffe. I consider this a strong action on Microsoft's part that they consider Kaffe a very important Open Source project. Come on now, any time Microsoft don't try to destroy competition, there must be something special about it.

  • Hmmm, I posted that hurriedly after returning from Friday afternoon drinking and realize I may be jeopardizing precious karma points.

    Yes, you've got to watch out. hehe

    Mozilla -- hey, I have great hopes for Mozilla and it should eventually meet my expectations. But today? Clearly better than IE? No way.

    Clearly, Mozilla is still a work in progress. You actually clipped off my comment, I mentioned that when I listed it. I wasn't so much as saying it was better now, but that it was slated to be easily better when it was complete.

    But there's nothing wrong with pointing out a projects goals, even if it hasn't got there yet. Mozilla is pretty close and we know what progress has been like, and where it is going to end up. Everyone does this :) Microsoft has been claiming for 5 years all the good things that W2K was going to do.

    KDE/GNOME -- I find KDE's progress astounding and I can't wait for 2.0 and KOffice. But is it clearly superior to MacOS, today? No way.

    I mentioned this already. "Better" is hard to define. Certainly, everyone has a different opinion on what their favorite WM is, but that doesn't change the fact that both KDE and Gnome are amazingly outstanding applications, and they will only get better.

    I don't think anything could be better then OS/2's Presentation Manager myself.

    Gimp -- clearly superior to Photoshop? Maybe for making Propaganda tiles, but not even close for publishing work.

    There are graphical applications to do many different things. Let's not compare apples to oranges here. Even Photoshop isn't meant for certain graphical work. But the Gimp has a strong niche too. Maybe not in everything, but that certain doesn't discount its quality.

    As I refered to earlier, Adobes response to questions about a Linux port of Photoshop is, "Have you tried out the Gimp?" They certainly think it has merit.

  • Simply said, there are dozens of open source applications that no one would consider replacing with closed clones.
    That's a funny statement considering that most open source applications are clones of commercial applications, not vice-versa.

    What was first, an open source web server, or a closed source? How about an open source web browser, or a closed source? How about DNS servers? Smtp servers? Was the first OS open source, or closed source? How ebout the TCP/IP stack?

    Sorry, check out the history. Lots of applications started out as open source implementations.

  • An astute reader will notice that apps you list are mostly network apps (I don't agree with you on Mozilla, KDE/Gnome, Gimp or Kaffe), and networking has been traditionally open source's domain; no surprises here.

    In all other areas, open source seems to be lacking: desktop productivity apps (MS Word), art design (Photoshop, 3dStudio), games, and even mathematical software (Matlab , Mathematica). Etc. Etc. I think it's an interesting question whether the shortcomings in these areas is a natural weakness of the open source model, or are these merely areas yet to be filled by open source software.

  • Microsoft has "partnered" with Transvirtual and funded Microsoft technologies to be added to Kaffe. I consider this a strong action on Microsoft's part that they consider Kaffe a very important Open Source project. Come on now, any time Microsoft don't try to destroy competition, there must be something special about it

    Kaffe doesnt even support Java 2, and I've yet to hear anyone have any success running complex Java 1.1 applications with Kaffe either.

    So I would hardly describe it as an OSS project "no one would consider replacing with a closed one." I've yet to find a reason to give up a closed JVM to even start considering Kaffe. Microsoft or no Microsoft.
  • ... the results would be seriously skewed toward certain types of programming (which I, as a kernel hacker, generally refer to as the "lightweight" side).

    So what? A study that only includes Linux programmers is excessively skewed toward kernel hacing. If you're interested in the demographics of open source programmers, and this is what they're doing, then that's what you should be investigating. You do know that kernel hacking is not the whole universe of open source, don't you?

    Nobody ever wrote a filesystem or device driver in perl, nobody ever will, and there are many more programming categories where it's almost equally unusable. The findings would be overly weighted toward text munging and web crap.

    Uh, while it's true that no one would use Perl for kernel hacking, file systems or device drivers, I think you have a very narrow and uninformed view of the things people do use it for. Have a look at the list of module categories [], you'll see many different kinds of applications, including system-level stuff (in fact, there are modules that access the filesystem and an interface to Windows serial device drivers there). Note that Perl modules don't have to be written in Perl; they can be written in the C API, which is often done to create a Perl interface to the operating system level.

    I think your conclusion has it completely backwards. Perl may be the project that covers the widest variety of programming categories, because it's used for so many different purposes.
  • What usually matters is that your program's preferences are in some dot-rc file in your home directory or in /etc, and these things can't be moved around without telling the program.

    Which is exactly my point. By the time all the "dot-rc"'s and the "/etc"'s and so-on have been removed/dumb-down, it Just Wouldn't Be Unix Any More (although it might be POSIX compliant).

    While the problem might not be totally intractable, I have yet to see a Unix distribution that didn't have hard coded paths (and symlink workarounds) all over the place to get it working. Really not any better than the Windows registry, except you have better parsing tools at hand.

    Meanwhile the only hardcoded paths on the Mac are in the System Folder. (And yes, a Mac app will start with default settings if you delete it's prefs file. Of course a Mac application isn't mearly an app that runs on the Macintosh -- it must follow the Mac Laws.)

    As for your driver loading example, my feeling is that as easy as the Mac way is, dragging files around can be left behind. A nice GUI frontend for /etc/conf.modules is probably all that's needed (and probably already exists.)

    That doesn't mean that there is some deep ``UNIX principle'' if you will which rules out the possibility of making graphical interfaces for system configuration and other things.

    No, just 20 years of "UNIX Practice"!

  • First: I thought we didn't like ZDnet. Anyway, I think a new tracking method ought to be devised: an open site where anyone can submit the name of their project and get counted, and with it a search engine of all of the projects, and possible hosting options. (VA, are you listening? Some bandwidth would be appreciated... :)

    I hope I take first post from some loser.
  • By Routers staff writer Django Shoenhopper, Copyright, 1999

    Bill Joy, best known as one of the principal engineers and Operating
    Systems software developers at Sun Microsystems, and formerly a core
    developer of the free BSD UNIX operating system written at the
    University of Berkeley in the late '70's and early '80's, let down his
    hair yesterday and was caught reciting at a well known San Francisco
    Poetry Slam. Mr. Joy took the stage right after the well known Amistad
    Maupin, author of the classic "Tales of the City" series,
    recited his famous "Ode to the claw-like scratches on this '70's
    bath house table"
    during the "Queen Phatima Amazon-Girl With
    Short-Spiked-Hair Poetry Slam"
    and let loose his own sort of
    software "Howl" to the delight of audience software developers
    and the engineering uninitiated alike.

    Entitled "Free means FREE GODDAMMIT! (the GPL is
    Mr. Joy eloquently presented his opinion on the Free
    Software licensing debate which has raged through engineering circles
    ever since East Coast programmer and Free Software advocate Richard
    Stallman hired several copyright attorneys to develop his so-called
    "CopyLeft" General Public License.

    Here is an excerpt:

    Free means FREE GODDAMMIT! (the GPL is EVIL)

    I sit here at my terminal
    coding a storm in my vi,
    a malloc() for some array,
    while strncpy() bounds a check,
    but inside I seethe -- inside I rumble,
    at all the lines locked up,
    and the derived headers claimed with glee,
    for I know the caged free()
    consumed by the GPL!

    Free means FREE GODDAMMIT,
    it means I take and offer as I please,
    it doesn't mean to taint my work,
    just because I swiped some header,
    or one little readline,
    it's the state of being FREE,
    as opposed to the state of being NOT FREE!

    Don't you understand RMS,
    the GPL is EVIL!,
    it's a blight of a free license,
    and a virus to behold,
    consuming all code afterwards,
    in an atomic chain reaction,
    like red tide spread across our ocean,
    all our oysters now inedible!

    Free coders far and wide,
    listen to my swan-song by the sea,
    for while Solaris kicks BSD's ass,
    and my SCSL is a sight to see,
    at least BSD and MIT leave code FREE,
    unlike that UNAMERICAN red GPL crap,
    with it RMS will suck you dry,
    Because Free means FREE GODDAMMIT!
    and The GPL is EVIL!

    When asked for comment Richard Stallman had only this to say,"Wow,
    Bill is a terrible poet!"

    But some here suspect that Mr. Stallman's response only belies both his
    East Coast snobbery for missing out on the new poetry slam revolution
    here in San Francisco, and his envy at Mr. Joy's enlightened West
    Coast writing style and attitude.
  • by nevets ( 39138 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @11:33AM (#1576584) Homepage Journal
    Working in this industry, you usually have long hours. Then with the passion of the geek, we work on Open Source when we get home. I personally love the code, but trying to raise two kids, and working full time as well as going to school for my MS in CS it gets hard. I tried to work with Xfree86, I'm still on the development list. But I have yet to submit anything. I was able to work with GTK a while ago, but that slipped too. Now my only saving grace is with college, I can work on a Open Source database for my thesis.

    I'm not alone, the hardest thing for Open Source people is time to do it. The learning curve, then the work. And if you get pulled away from it for a while then it's hard to catch back up. When things get slower I want to start my own little project, but that is for later.

    Also, looking at the Talk Backs, a lot of reference is made by clueless people that Open Source is done to take down Microsoft. This is sooooo untrue. I don't even think about Microsoft when I work with Linux. Of course RedHat and Caldera have to, to help get MS newbies over to Linux, but those that are writing code, do it for the pleasure of it. How could you accomplish anything if you only work to undermine something else. Negative energy is not easily turned into positive energy. But coding for the love of it will never die. Linus wrote Linux because he wanted an OS that he could live with. Not to undermind MS, but to not have to be stuck with it.

    Steven Rostedt
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @11:17AM (#1576585) Homepage Journal
    Most of the professional shops I've seen have been understaffed, overworked, and too busy putting out fires (Immediate customer problems) to settle down and properly design anything OR innovate. Open Source projects have none of these limitations.

    It has been my experience time and again that Open Source software is almost always of higher quality than anything that comes out of the "Professional" industry.

  • Those who believe in freedom, the right to innovate, and that covers everything from the long haired hippie to the smooth cut executive. The world of computers is by and large a totally NON external one, while our internal thought proccess might manifest themselves externally, one must remember, looks and location are MEANINGLESS here. All that matters is what you say and do, my actions and my words speak for me as they do all of us. Who are we? We are who we are.
  • by goliard ( 46585 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @11:40AM (#1576587)

    OK, yeah, the article was cheesy and shallow. Complain all you want about the "not hippies like you expected" jist.

    But the question - "Who are the people behind this social movement, and what are they like?" - is a great question to ask. The fact that it may be impossible to answer conclusively doesn't detract from the potential value of the pursuiting an answer.

    History will want to know "What happened here to cause this? Who were the men and women who joined in and supported this cause? What were their motivations? How did it fit into their lifes and their livelihoods? What made them different than all the people who did not take up the cause?"

    There are some trivial answers to some of these questions, but there are also richer answers. It's all well and good to say "people contribute to OS because they want to give back", but that, for instance, misses the obvious predicate "and they aren't satisfied with the available cost-ware and its affordances." Our explanations to ourselves often overlook such fundamentals, because we are like fish discussing water.

    I fervently hope that more anthropologists, social commentators, and just plain clueful reporters pay close attention to what's happening in the OS movement. This is what "journalism" means : to "journal" - to chronicle - history as it is being made.

    This is it. This is history. Come'n get it.

  • by pb ( 1020 )
    What a cool idea!

    Good ol' sunsite. Imagine, normal geeks write code and upload it to an ftp site because they want to *share*. Hmm. And I thought they just wanted to spread their warez for us to leech. (ooo, kool k-rad Xbill game!) And they don't all program games, either, some of them want to get their work done! And some of those people have jobs, maybe even in other countries! Surprise, surprise.

    Oh well, I'll content myself with the fact that this never would have made it to ZDNet a couple of years ago.
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • You can set slashdot to deduct points for posts shorter than 80 bytes or whatever you choose. That will go a long way towards elimininating this crap. Or if you want to be more positive, add points for posts longer than foo bytes long.
  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @11:24AM (#1576591)
    ...Bar your windows, the Evil Open Source Longhaired Communist Anti-Business Hippies are on the way!!
    From the Propaganda Department of the United States of America, subdivision Microsoft, Inc.

    Protect your children! These developers will stop at nothing to bring the flourishing networked economy to a grinding halt in the name of satanic flightless birds, and some crazy guy named after one of the Peanuts characters!!! (Linus)

    Oh, and you just KNOW they're all *COMMIES*. How on earth could anybody give anything away for free, without being some kind of hippe beatnik pot smoking red commie pinko of a subversive! They're not AMERICANS like you or I - their hearts pump no blood like ours, but rather, a thick, vomitous black fluid that oozes and stinks of their evil intentions.

    Resist this creeping evil! Do not be fooled by Open Source Programmers who mindlessly chatter about how they offer more stable and secure software than Microsoft. The very concept is absurd! Now shut up and listen to Mr. Paperclip.

    (Warning: The above was a joke - if you didn't gather that, please look up the term LART and apply it to thyself)

  • Stallman shouldn't throw stones from that glass house he lives in. Anyone ever heard him sing? Worse than William Shatner. Much, much worse.
  • This should be submitted to
  • One word: StarOffice. This is the best office package I've seen, and it even supports ALL the M$ formats (good for me because there are 3 WinXX machines in my network ...) Its homepage : (download it for FREE!) And it's OS now ... (semi-OS) =) d

  • an open site where anyone can submit the name of their project and get counted, and with it a search engine of all of the projects, and possible hosting options

    I thought this already existed and was called freshmeat...

  • Download KDE 1.1.2 and apply the Glax theme, with the Digital CDE colours. It's a brillo interface ... sucks on the default layout, but theme it and BONZA !! (btw: don't say themes are extras, they're heavily integrated with K.)

  • Sorry, to truly measure and map the contributions of Open Source software members you have to look at much more than LSMs. LSM's are good starting point, but that is all they are. I'd like to first say that the number of people who work on multiple projects is actually much greater. A simple scan of source code reveals this.

    I'll be honest, I don't think this article is worthy of criticism as it is of praise. It's nice to see the recognition of folks, even as statistics, outside of the common names we all know.

    Chris DiBona
    VA Linux Systems
    Grant Chair, Linux Int.

  • We could also say that anything given the foot icon is off-topic.
    "It's not News for Nerds!"

    C'mon, man. Laugh once in a while. It's six oclock here on the east coast, and I am done working for the day. We all can use a break once in a while. If you don't like this sort of thing, ignore those strange articles with the foot icon and ignore anything moderated "funny."
    It's moderated that high because five people (not the usual four) thought it was amusing.

  • Well, I always thought that MacOS's Type/Creator system was a feature. For example, if you were last working with a JPEG in Photoshop, double-clicking it should not launch JPEGView. Admittedly, not having a good integrated UI to change the types is a big problem. (I used to use a shareware extention to the Get Info box that gave nice dropdown menus.)

    Anyway, it's certainly better than Windows' last-installed-program-wins battle of file type associations, and Linux's who-knows-what-might-happen approach.
  • One more thing, Apple maintains a central registry of type/creator codes, so there is never going to be a conflict.

    This generally isn't a problem, but then recently I noticed our Lotus Domino gateway was assigning *.DOC files the MIME type "X-LotusManuscript" -- a program that has been produced in 10 years!
  • Mozilla

    IE is faster and more stable according to everyone I know. Nice of you to list a product that doesn't yet exist though.

    Does too. Milestones! The latest Milestone release is pretty stable, and its pretty nice. I prefer to compile my own and not build in the debugging code. And, according to me, Netscape is faster (this has nothing to do with Open Source zealotry, because Netscape isn't open source), and I've never used IE regularly (my dad agrees, and he doesn't bother with the computer politics).

  • our goal was to study one long running, since 1993, open source community. i think that too much data-mingling would be a bad idea.

    Fine, nothing wrong with that, the study just needs to be presented for what it is. I really don't know if you've done anything objectionable, because I haven't seen what you've written. My objection is to the headlines at ZDNet and Slashdot, which described it as a study of "open source"; that's overbroad.
  • Kind of agree with you on this, but its not wholly true. The size of the corporation often makes a difference. A lot of the early commercial stuff was well designed - small (5 man) teams. There are several reasons why commercial software becomes bloatware: 1. Inability of corporate to take a deep breath and say "Sure you can rewrite it from scratch". 2. Commercial pressure to fix bugs when the original designer(s) has moved on - of course there is no documentation and even if there was, there's no time to peruse it 'cos that bug has to be fixed in 4 hours. 3. Intransigent end users (The pressure to maintain backward compatibility). Most OSS users are pretty flexible with changes in their software. Esp. if they see that its a more elegant solution. They're programmers after all. Most commercial apps are used by people that don't have the patience to rebuild their app and would dearly love to open yesterdays document.
  • Have you actually looked at the authors of the software you're discussing on Freshmeat? Lots of 'us' don't have CS majors at all ... some of 'us' are only hobbiest programmers that write code for fun. Admittedly, some of this code sucks ... but that's why open source works for 'us'.

    - Michael T. Babcock <homepage []>
  • From the article:

    What about the proverbial longhaired, barefooted perpetual graduate student/hacker? UNC found that he and she only wrote 12 percent of Linux applications.

    I knew we only had one longhaired, barefooted female graduate student/hacker in our midst, but gosh! She did 12% of all Linux applications? This chick is hot!

    "Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

  • I guess I'm missing out on the new poetry slam revolution.

    Although I disagree with it completely, and not to mention that your post is slightly (Score: -1 Offtopic), I would say it is interesting. Fearing another BSD,SCSL,GPL license war, I will say this.

    GPL actually helps against forks. Although several say that it was the cause for the GNOME and KDE separation. And then you get the comments of those who point out that GNOME and KDE have no common point, so it is not a fork. It was a licensing issue that caused GNOME to be created, but it looks like every release, the two become more compatible.

    GPL is not FREE for you, it is FREE for the code. The code shall always remain FREE. You don't have the right to make it not FREE, so the code to you is not FREE. But the code itself is. I don't like the "viral" effect of GPL. I prefer something like LGPL, and I wish there would be a license that would be like LGPL for applications and not just libraries. ie. You can use my code as long as all the functions remain FREE. If you modify one of my functions or datatypes, then that too must be FREE. But if you write your own function that simply calls my function, then that code is yours to do what you want.

    If a license comes out that is like the above,then that would be my prefered one.

    Forks usually happen because of open source becoming closed source. Forks don't happen often in open source to open source unless there is a political reason. But it is more suseptible for open source to fork if it becomes closed, since once it is closed, you can't learn from it. This is what I credit the fork of the Unixs with.

    Looks like you can stop posting as "negative karma" since you are becoming "wiser" and have reached the depths of "bacteria" in the positive karma ;)

    Steven Rostedt
  • The LSM database lists the primary, or sometimes original developers of a project. When you take into account that most patches come from an even broader range of people, the point of the article becomes even stronger. Namely, contributers to free software are not generally a bunch of hippie freaks... even though a couple of the most visible contributors clearly are!

    JMC "hippie freak in training"

  • Nonsense. I dare you to list all the open-source programs that are clearly better than their commercial counterparts. You won't find many.

    This is going to be fun. Especially since "better" is clearly undefinable.

    Oh well, here goes.

    • Apache,
    • Bind
    • Sendmail
    • PHP3
    • Mozilla (Not quite done yet, but already strong)
    • KDE/Gnome
    • Gimp (Yes, Adobe refers you to gimp, as a replacement for its graphical apps on platforms it doesn't support)
    • Kaffe
    • Perl
    That's enough for now. Simply said, there are dozens of open source applications that no one would consider replacing with closed clones. -Brent
  • Lets make sure we compare apples to apples. Oracle does more than MySQL. I'm not saying its better. I'm a postgres user myself.
  • we know and acknowledge that LSMs are only part of what's out there, but LSMs have tracked (and still do track) the most "open" contributions. that is the archive is not controlled, for better or worse, by Linus, a core team, or much of anyone.
    i like to think of the archive and LSMs as the beginning of the Open Source pipe. next we want to look at what makes it from LSM to different distros, how certain "programmer heroes" contribute and where, etc. (this last might include alan cox as a contributor of graphics to the archive w/LSM ;->).

    more suggestions for us to look into are welcome and encouraged
  • And we _still_ don't have a decent WYSIWYG word processor! It's amazing that this incredibly important area of the software market is ignored. Sure, there are half-assed attempts like Abiword, and gwp, but come on. It just shows you that people only work on what they need, and programmers don't need word processors
  • I agree with you.

    Like you, I'm thinking about writing this app. And I would like to encourage plugins (don't care if the plugins are properiatery or OSS). Don't see why the developer should have to GPL their software, just because I choose to do it for mine.

    A compromise between GPL and BSD style license, is that we need. As long as my base code is free, I don't care what your license you use for your code. Does artistic license cover this?
  • As far as I can see, they only counted the author or maintainer for each package, not the many contributers. The later would require digging through ChangeLog and CREDITS files, and perhaps even mailing list archives.

    Iff someone did that, I think we would see many more shared developers between projects. Being the official maintainer can be stressful, I can understand why most people will only do that for one project. Contributing to someone elses project is less demanding, you can work when you want to, and ignore the project when your interest is elsewhere. It would also be interesting to examine how many one-man projects there, how many that are essentially developed by teams, and how many which are based on many one-patch contributions. Looking for cliques could also be interesting, are there cliques formed around Gnome and KDE where the same developers contribute to the same projects?

    It would be a lot more work than examining LSM files, and t would probably be necessary to limit the number of projects examined. But there might be a nice bachelor project in studing the contributer dynamics.
  • Apache

    Simply said, there are dozens of open source applications that no one would consider replacing with closed clones.


    If only I could replace Netscape's[1] sever with Apache where I work...

    [1] How can one company make a line of products that so sucks so consistently? I mean, MS desktop products (office, et al) are more stable than all of Netscape's products (Servers, clients, whatever)...
  • Why don't someone find all the software they can, look for the CREDITS or AUTHORS file, parse it, store entries for each developer in a database somewhere, and then bring out the statistics!

    Why hadn't someone thought of this before? You are not going to find out about the developers in "Linux" Software Maps... look in the tarballs.

    * Linux is not very significant in the whole of things. What about the compiler, filesystem utilities, X Windows System, text editors, Desktop Enviroments, etc.? And what of the other kernals?

    Linux? That's GNU/Linux [] to you mister!
  • also perhaps and addition to /. where we could specify what moderations to exclude. so if you were mr spock you could ignore everything "funny". and if you were the over worked kirk you could ignore everything but funny.

    matisse:~$ cat .sig
  • If you're going to follow up on the study, why don't you try to find out what you can from the authors list of the CPAN archive [] for contributions to Perl? It's a large list, and although it does not include information about their locations, most of them at least provide their email addresses.

    There is public biographical info [] about many of the contributors to the Apache server.

    But above all, please try to include more projects next time. I'm bothered that the headlines on ZDNet and Slashdot said "Open Source", when in fact the study was just about Linux.
  • Clearly superior to MacOS how?

    Feel like hacking Themes into MacOS? How about porting it? Or changing the buttons on the titlebar? Does it come with cool screensavers? Or an integrated file/web browser?

    KDE has a lot of features that MacOS doesn't have, and a consistent desktop interface (KDE's apps, eh?). And if you don't like it, you even have a choice!
    pb Reply rather than vaguely moderate me.
  • I don't believe there is anything in the LGPL that says it is only for libraries.

    Heck, RMS renamed it to Lesser GNU Public License, to make it clear it wasn't just for libraries.
  • by JonK ( 82641 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @12:10PM (#1576635)
    Well .....

    most of the professional coding I've done (yes, I admit it: I write code for money - I've got to pay the rent somehow, after all ) hasn't been for general release. If my experience is indicative of the industry in general (and I have no particular reason to doubt it), most code is written for bespoke systems commissioned by a client to match their (perceived) business requirements. And as such, the customer is always right. Even when they're laughably, self-evidently, brain-numbingly wrong. After all, they're the ones paying the bills, and hence paying the wages of me and mine.

    In this branch of the business, the model is as follows: the client puts out an invitation to tender. Various internal and external coding shops submit a tender based on the outline functional specification the client has provided, the client picks one and a contract is signed for (generally) a fixed amount of money to do the job. Once the contract's in place, the client spends the next (80% of the allotted development time) revising/rewriting the specs - after all, they're the ones with the money - while the development team sweats, works 16-hour days and generally gets jerked around from pillar to post.

    This isn't, as you rightly point out, an ideal environment for innovation. But equally it's not the section of the industry in which the Open vs Closed Source debate is happening (unless I missed something ).

  • How could you accomplish anything if you only work to undermine something else.

    "Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger."

    -- The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

  • Kaffe

    [...]open source applications that no one would consider replacing with closed clones.

    Oh, this has got to be a joke.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Goddammit, when will you people get it? Open Source has been around much longer than this embarrassing Linux "movement".
  • by Eccles ( 932 ) on Friday October 29, 1999 @12:28PM (#1576640) Journal
    Nonsense. I dare you to list all the open-source programs that are clearly better than their commercial counterparts. You won't find many.

    That wasn't the original claim. The original poster said that open source apps are better *designed* than the closed source ones. The closed source apps generally have more programmer time thrown at them, and thus the poor design elements get worked around. I know this from experience; I work on a large commercial app. It generally does the job, and it's certainly better than what little open source exists of its type, but there's some horrific code in there. And that code makes it harder to modify and harder to keep reliable. But if you sell software, you have the money to throw more and more programmers at it.

    Sometimes at home I write particularly elegant code for release as open source. But a lack of time keeps me from doing nearly as much as I do during working hours.

    So the real question is whether the money in selling software is going to stay enough to fund development in this style. So far it looks like it will, but more advanced open source apps may start eating away at the profit margins.

"Been through Hell? Whaddya bring back for me?" -- A. Brilliant