Discussions

News: Are Open Source Software Tools Better than Commercial?

  1. More and more developers are using development tools produced by the open source community like JUnit, MySQL, Eclipse, PHP or JBoss. A recent poll asked to compare the quality of open source and commercial software development tools. And the winner is... not obvious ;o) Open source versus commercial tools 2006 (2004 answers) Same quality: 38% (32%) There is no easy answer to this question: 22% (24%) Superior in quality: 20% (26%) Inferior in quality: 12% 13% I do not use open source tools: 6% (4%) I do not use commercial tools: 2% (1%) Participants: 524 (312) Source: http://www.methodsandtools.com For many participants, there is no difference in perceived quality between open source and commercial tools for software development. For 22% of the participants, it was difficult to give a precise answer. Diversity exists in both worlds and it is not easy to give a clear indication when you have experiences giving opposite indications. Things have not changed a lot since our 2004 poll, even if the usage of open source tools has surely increased in the mainstream development shop. This may be a reason of the 6% decline in percentage in the "OS software is better than commercial" category, as open source has been more used and could revealed some limits. The claim that open source software is as good as commercial one seems easy to understand. Besides their open source label, there is little difference in the available support infrastructure between products like JBoss, PHP or MySQL and their commercial competitor. Backed by large companies like IBM, products like Apache or Eclipse will surely receive more testing than a small project in SourceForge. For open source software development tools, a large user base also increases the probability that associated professional services are created to provide commercial support and that the quality of the software is "commercially" managed. For 20% of the participants, open source development tools are superior in quality to commercial ones. Besides the results of our informal pool, there have been some studies to compare the quality of open source and commercial products. Part of these studies have investigated a claim by many open source software advocates that their code quality was higher. Peer review and the amount of feedback from users are quoted as allowing open source software to achieve high quality results. When it decided to release some software in the open source world the NASA gives "to increase NASA software quality via community peer review " as its first motivation (see references). But if the size of the development team and a smaller user base could be a problem for small vendors, larger commercial organisations could also have implemented internal peer review and they have also a user community with adequate feedback channels. So why could the feedback loops and quality perception be better in the open source community? Several factors could influence this perception: - Developers and users (not customers!) have a higher sense of product's ownership. They feel that they both contribute to something special and it is not "just a job" or "just a product" - The relationship between users and developers are less confrontational because a) money is not the matter b) expectations are often different: the product is "younger" and... there is not a marketing organisation sometimes over-selling the benefits ;o) c) open source organisations seems to have a better responsiveness to customers request/bugs as the process is more collaborative than confrontational Some references on the quality of open source software: http://opensource.arc.nasa.gov/ http://scan.coverity.com/ http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread=21730 http://www.cyrius.com/publications/michlmayr_hill-reliance.pdf http://opensource.mit.edu/papers/michlmayr_hunt_probert-quality_practices_problems.pdf http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060420.gtflkhaledapr20/BNStory/Technology/einsider

    Threaded Messages (34)

  2. It's more than the software[ Go to top ]

    For the Fortune 50 I work for, the bigger issue with using open source isn't the quality of the software, pe se, but about the support model. Just about everything will break eventually and the suits upstairs want to be able to call someone on the phone to raise hell when it does. They like the lack of licensing cost, but not when stuff starts hitting fans. While its true that some places like Red Had offer support for open source, most things don't have that as part of their offerings. Personally, I'm a big open source fan because that's where most of the cutting edge ideas have come from in the last 8 years. My "fun factor" often gets overwritten by the folks paying the bills, though, for the reasons stated above.
  3. Re: It's more than the software[ Go to top ]

    Just about everything will break eventually and the suits upstairs want to be able to call someone on the phone to raise hell when it does.
    That is interesting. You would think a more sensible approach would be to shut up until the technologists have fixed the problem, and then try to arrange matters in such a way that the problem doesn't reappear.
  4. support is overrated[ Go to top ]

    Most of the time, what is the quality of support you get from the commercial vendors? Typically it's some clueless entry level person who's reading canned questions and answers. I'd much rather have open source software where I can diagnose and fix any issue I run across my own self. I've heard this "support" angle for years and have also seen it first hand. Support is overrated.
  5. Re: support is overrated[ Go to top ]

    Most of the time, what is the quality of support you get from the commercial vendors? Typically it's some clueless entry level person who's reading canned questions and answers.

    I'd much rather have open source software where I can diagnose and fix any issue I run across my own self.

    I've heard this "support" angle for years and have also seen it first hand. Support is overrated.
    Agreed with open sources solution, if the problem is so critical, you can hire a developer just to fix it. Try to do that in a company. Of course, you are going to have to pay some money but since a commercial product and support isn't free either, I don't see any problem.
  6. Re: support is overrated[ Go to top ]

    I meant try to do that "with a commercial product" in the previous post.
  7. Anti Micorosft[ Go to top ]

    Again, biased developers who do not use Micorosft, same old crap,,the fact remains I really done care what I develop in but Microsoft is AHEAD OF THE CURVE,, for instance just in the idea of language an langauge support if I have an issue and pay for support they are right thier you can not deny, although I will here denial, also look at java.sun.com "Identies" security models,,,uh humm Microsoft has this in .net and for over 3 years now,, what the f''' clue less people, its such a joke, that some of you are developers, alot of you are so full of crap its sick,,,this industry sucks and I am so sick of all the idiots!!! And of course some IDIOT will say in response hey buddy your an idiot, this is just such high school comedy,,,,Engineers wheres the math!!
  8. Re: Anti Micorosft[ Go to top ]

    AHEAD OF THE CURVE
    Dude, Vista's gonna ship, chill out! In the case of commercial Microsoft support for say... J++, Microsoft doesn't support the language anymore. They don't support the IDE that supports the language anymore. Soon, they won't support the OS that supports the tool that supports the language anymore. When they stop shipping security fixes for the OS, it's truly dead to just about every business that has security procedures and policies. There was no mention of Microsoft until you posted so I don't think it's fair to rant in this thread anti-Microsoft.
  9. Re: Anti Micorosft[ Go to top ]

    Jack, I am afraid I am going to fall into your carefully laid trap but I have to say that I honestly don't have any idea on what your are talking about and, to be frank, I am not certain that you do either. I suggest you use your browser's 'search' facility to try to find the word 'Microsoft' on this page. Nobody even mentioned them until you did so where does all your misplaced rage stem from? The fact is that any developer with any level of experience understands that both commercial and (free) open source software both have their place in the industry and it is about more than the availability of software support. Free (notice how I keep making this distinction?) open source software generally relies on volunteer contributions and can sometimes lack in areas that are not 'sexy' (documentation for example). If you rely on volunteer contributions you cannot force others to work on specific areas. Larger projects will eventually attract people who are happy to do the less interesting work but it is easier to pay people to do it. A client of mine is in the process of migrating their application from an open source application server to a commercial one because the things that matter to them are not always the things that matter to open source developers and they do want accountability. It is easier to explain business requirements to an account manager than to an obscure technical mailing list. So in summary, no, not better... just different.
  10. Re: Anti Micorosft[ Go to top ]

    And of course some IDIOT will say in response hey buddy your an idiot
    Actually, no, they will write "you're an idiot", because it's the proper spelling. Been skipping English classes lately?
    , this is just such high school comedy,,,,Engineers wheres the math!!
    Speaking of high school, the way you express yourself strongly suggests that you are fairly young, so I recommend you work on how to present your ideas in an articulate manner if you want them heard. -- Cedric
  11. Re: Anti Micorosft[ Go to top ]

    Engineers wheres the math!!
    Where's the grammar, Jack? Obvious flame bait.
  12. What seems to be interesting is that the reaction to these numbers are different in the Microsoft-related communities. Example: I have posted the same news on TSS.net and there are no comments on it. I have also posted this news on other forums and read comments by MFST users that their tools are OK and with more features than OS "competition". Maybe this is because there are less OS projects targetting Microsoft-compatible technologies?
  13. What seems to be interesting is that the reaction to these numbers are different in the Microsoft-related communities. Example: I have posted the same news on TSS.net and there are no comments on it. I have also posted this news on other forums and read comments by MFST users that their tools are OK and with more features than OS "competition". Maybe this is because there are less OS projects targetting Microsoft-compatible technologies?
    There are two ways to look at the Microsoft market. In the rose-colored sense, everything you need (and everything you need to know) comes from Microsoft. There's always one obvious best way to do something, and typically only one way to do something. Conversely, from the critical point-of-view, Microsoft customers have allowed themselves to become completely dependent on the directions and missives of a single company, and see no value in exploring other possibilities. For example, IoC has been possible for some time with various open source projects freely available for C# and .NET, but very few C# developers would use it. Microsoft came out with an implementation that was far inferior to the crappiest of the C# open source projects, and people immediately started flocking to it and singing its praises. It's honestly sickening. The good news for Microsoft is that they'll do fine regardless, because there are always lazy people out there who like to be spoon fed, and most of us have no choice but to use, work with and support Microsoft's products. The bad news for Microsoft is that they are slowly pissing away the greatest market position ever achieved in history, and they are so self-absorbed that they don't even realize it. Peace, Cameron Purdy Tangosol Coherence: The Java Data Grid
  14. The bad news for Microsoft is that they are slowly pissing away the greatest market position ever achieved in history, and they are so self-absorbed that they don't even realize it.
    Oh really. What market would that be?
  15. Re: support is overrated[ Go to top ]

    I'd much rather have open source software where I can diagnose and fix any issue I run across my own self.

    I've heard this "support" angle for years and have also seen it first hand. Support is overrated.
    I think you pretty much proved my point. If you have to know enough about a piece of open source to be able to fix issues yourself, then from a support standpoint you aren't really any better off than if you wrote it from scratch. If I'm running an app server and I find some critical defect, the turnaround time on that fix if its JBoss is pretty slow since I either have to do it myself as you suggest or wait for the community to respond. If it's BEA, I have a much quicker escalation path because I'm paying them for it. Support is only overrated if you don't need it.
  16. Re: support is overrated[ Go to top ]

    Support is only overrated if you don't need it.
    Agreed. If you're using Eclipse environments primarily, MyEclipse includes many of the common open standards, but includes support for $30/yr. One of the major complaints, as stated, with open source is the lack of timely or quality support. MyEclipse's average response time to support questions is two hours. Worth a look if you're not familiar. http://www.myeclipseide.com
  17. Re: support is overrated[ Go to top ]

    Most of the time, what is the quality of support you get from the commercial vendors? Typically it's some clueless entry level person who's reading canned questions and answers.
    I don't know if this is actually true or not. I do know that most of the time that I've had to get support from a company, and when I've had to "call the support line" or "submit an incident", I've ended up with the exact experience that you are describing 80% of the time, which is terribly frustrating (and some of those were "open source" companies). What I have found is that small companies tend to provide much better support, and much faster escalation from initial problem up to engineering. Larger companies tend to have more levels that you have to go through, and the initial levels of support tend to be far enough removed from the product engineers that they can only answer FAQ-type questions.
    I'd much rather have open source software where I can diagnose and fix any issue I run across my own self.
    That is a nice thought, for something simple enough. Unfortunately, most things are not simple enough. Not only that, but your company is probably not wanting it's developers to be spending their time fixing other people's stuff. (It's bad enough you are spending your time "QA-ing" other people's stuff! ;-) On the other hand, it would be really nice if all products (open source and commercial) could ship full source code, so that debugging (etc.) would be possible (at least to verify whose problem it was), and so that the users could learn more from and about the products. Unfortunately, our IP law is so bad as to make it near-impossible for most commercial products to ship source. Peace, Cameron Purdy Tangosol Coherence: The Java Data Grid
  18. Re: support is overrated[ Go to top ]

    it would be really nice if all products (open source and commercial) could ship full source code, so that debugging (etc.) would be possible (at least to verify whose problem it was), and so that the users could learn more from and about the products.
    +1
  19. Commercial products with source[ Go to top ]

    On the other hand, it would be really nice if all products (open source and commercial) could ship full source code, so that debugging (etc.) would be possible (at least to verify whose problem it was), and so that the users could learn more from and about the products. Unfortunately, our IP law is so bad as to make it near-impossible for most commercial products to ship source.
    Companies using the GPL and a dual license does exactly this. They ship their commercial products with source - and also have the oppurtunity to earn money on licenses sold to those requiring a different license than GPL. The GPL does provide quite far protection of your source code so that it's not being "stolen" into a another proprietary work. One could actually look at the GPL as a way to expose your source while still protecting your IP and copyright. cheers, Peter
  20. The GPL does provide quite far protection of your source code so that it's not being "stolen" into a another proprietary work. One could actually look at the GPL as a way to expose your source while still protecting your IP and copyright.
    How I wish it were true. If I download GPL source that you release, read it all, and then write an eerily similar product, under what statute would you sue me? Our IP attorneys don't like our chances under copyright law (since the act is arguably not copying), and copyright law is the cornerstone that the GPL is built on. Peace, Cameron Purdy Tangosol Coherence: The Java Data Grid
  21. The GPL does provide quite far protection of your source code so that it's not being "stolen" into a another proprietary work.

    One could actually look at the GPL as a way to expose your source while still protecting your IP and copyright.


    How I wish it were true. If I download GPL source that you release, read it all, and then write an eerily similar product, under what statute would you sue me? Our IP attorneys don't like our chances under copyright law (since the act is arguably not copying), and copyright law is the cornerstone that the GPL is built on.

    Peace,

    Cameron Purdy
    Tangosol Coherence: The Java Data Grid
    You're right about that - if you want to be the only one able to create and sell a specific software product - a patent or closed-source is probably the only way. But - in most cases - it's a matter of doing the work - and not that you have discovered something that nobody else in the world could figure out. And writing a similar software might mean a lot of work for you (since the GPL prevents you from copying it directly into your proprietary project) - and then you'd probably rather buy a non GPL-license if it costs you less than rewriting a similar software yourself. cheers, Peter Salomonsen
  22. Re: support is overrated[ Go to top ]

    I've heard this "support" angle for years and have also seen it first hand. Support is overrated.
    The quality of support depends on the company, the quality of its engineers, how it is internally organized, how crucial your business is to them, etc... I have experienced very good support from some, and inexistant one from others. Like most things, it depends.
  23. Re: support is overrated[ Go to top ]

    To buy support is to buy confidence, and confidence is the kind of things that is worth to pay... The big guys (companies) sell confidence with a high price (despite of a non-technical is the guy usually answering your problems in an outsourced call center), but they are the big guys, the smart people that build this are there...I can sleep happy. In small companies (like my company) the confidence is not so high priced and we are nearest to you, usually you have a direct contact with the developers/architects. The main difference is: if our work/software is bad we have bad dreams and our reputation and pocket suffers :) In the non-supported open source world the developer can say you "I do this for free you cannot have any exigency about my work, it is as is". Open source is ok and works, but usually is a riskier option and the mortality is greater, a piece of crap or old fashioned commercial software usually has a longer live if there are people supporting it (think about the COBOL world). And don't worry about your loved commercial product 10 years after, it probably will be open sourced in the end of its life. Jose M. Arranz JNIEasy: Java Native Objects now in Linux.
  24. Think about SCALABILITY. Most open source products are perfect for small business. Try using MySQL server on 1000+ concurrent accesses. I very much doubt it will work properly.
  25. It work[ Go to top ]

    I have use MySQL 5 with replication on Telecom call flow for thousands of transaction per second. It worked for years PLEASE FREE YOUR MIND
  26. Curiosity[ Go to top ]

    I do believe you if you say you actually experienced it. However, why do some choose to use very expensive DB servers such as Oracle when MySQL can do the exact same thing with no costs at all?
  27. Re: Curiosity[ Go to top ]

    Radu, I do think that is true. But is very difficult to say which product is the best. In choosing a software product for the runtime environment there are issues to consider. Will it perform? Will it be scalable? Is there enough support? Are there best practices? Is there a user base in the world? Can i educate personel to manage/maintain the environment? Will the product/vendor still exist in the next 10 years? The commercial products seem, traditionally, to score better in the combination of these issues. But, however, if your runtime enviroment supports a department with 10 employees with 1 application, do you really need a full-fledged commurcial solution? You still be needing a user/developer base, which is there in most open source initiatives. But maybe you can cut on the support or lifetime of the product.
  28. Re: Curiosity[ Go to top ]

    Radu,

    I do think that is true. But is very difficult to say which product is the best. In choosing a software product for the runtime environment there are issues to consider. Will it perform? Will it be scalable? Is there enough support? Are there best practices? Is there a user base in the world? Can i educate personel to manage/maintain the environment? Will the product/vendor still exist in the next 10 years?
    And the biggest consideration of all: "How much stock does the pension fund own in this company and I might as well give the money to them instead of trying to hurt 'em.?" A relatively small outlay in software licensing can translate to an amplified rate of return on equity holdings in the licensing company. As others have posted, managers/corporations are risk adverse. Commercial offerings have an implied and sometimes explicit CYA factor(ie SLA agreement) that gives comfort to one's career survivability. Let's not forget the old adage, "No one got fired for hiring ."
  29. I guess it depends of the kind of software.
  30. What happens to the support equation when the open source company grows? Are they still able to return your calls in 2 hours? Are you stil able to talk to senior developers on the first call? Is there still a focus on the discourse between the developers and the users? Or does the business model get burdened with growth to the point that these companies begin to act more like commercial vendors? I have more to say here, but, a recent email from Red Hat/JBoss makes me feel that open source companies start acting more like commercial vendors as they grow commercially. And as this happens, some of the key benefits of open source are diminished. Taken to the extreme, when we compare open source from a fast growing OSS company vs. a commercial software product, are we just talking about whether you have access to the source code, something that's used by less than 2% of developers? Savio
  31. In my world (government & health-care) senior management considers commercially licensed software as a risk mitigation mechanism. I.e. they like the idea of transferring risks around flaws in software to somebody else, and they don't mind paying for that. Therefore, open source software would never be considered for "back-bone" kind of software (app-server, database etc). But we can use open source libraries (Struts, Spring, Hibernate etc) in our application development. For IDE tools, if think there are good arguments for open source tools, especially if the systems developed on them are small to mid-size plain-old Struts/JSF-Spring-Hibernate applications. In the end, I guess it's a case-by-case evaluation for when to select commercial or open-source software. /Johan
  32. Availability is also important[ Go to top ]

    If you decide to download and test a component. You want to make sure that if you actually end up using it, it won't mean that you get into expensive and complicated license issues. Even worse if you end up in a trial-period when all you've written expires. Availability of the source is highly valuable, so that you're safe even if your component-provider goes broke.. By being able to download, test and start using instantly - this is a highly value argument for using open source software rather than proprietary. cheers, Peter BTW. What's this idea about Open Source not being commercial? It's highly commercial today I believe, and a fast growing business. I think the title should be "Are Open Source Software Tools Better than Proprietary"?
  33. If you decide to download and test a component. You want to make sure that if you actually end up using it, it won't mean that you get into expensive and complicated license issues.

    Even worse if you end up in a trial-period when all you've written expires.

    Availability of the source is highly valuable, so that you're safe even if your component-provider goes broke..

    By being able to download, test and start using instantly - this is a highly value argument for using open source software rather than proprietary.
    To avoid this commercial application providers are offering free "Express" versions to compete with open source offerings. In the JNIEasy case (my company's product) a renewable evaluation licence can be obtained at the web site with no registry, it is another way to provide the "using instantly" requirement.
  34. My Vote is 50-50 for OpenSource and Commercial, both have their own advantages and disadvantages. When will there be Open Hardware Market :)
  35. Support is not just bug-fixing[ Go to top ]

    If you take that viewpoint that all Support gives you is untrained staff reading from scripts then you're not going to see much benefit in Support as a commercial value-add (regardless of the base software being commercial or open source in the first place). In reality Support *should* mean more than that: 1. Yes the ability to get bugs logged and fixed. 2. Maybe help you to understand where you goofed - most support questions are essentially of the how-to variety. There's nothing wrong with it - you just used it incorrectly. 3. Certification - does this work with that? Can I deploy to application server 'X' version 7.2 with a backend database of... 4. Longevity - how long will a framework or tool remain soup-de-jour? If a company gets money from supporting it then they will have to keep maintaining it. They have a harder time just walking away onto a more interesting project. (Of course your mileage will vary from vendor to vendor.) There is no doubt that open source has changed the support landscape. Much more of the knowledge base is in the wild rather than in vendor silos and this alters the dynamics of knowledge acquisition. But the basic principles above hold true and let's face it the majority of developers would rather just fix the bugs in their own code rather than someone elses...