Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Rating System Will Evaluate Free Software

Filed under
OSS

Free software, despite the price, can be confusing and costly for corporations to use. A few freely distributed programs, like the Linux operating system and the Apache Web server, have become well known, but most are still unproved.

So companies often have to do their own testing and tweaking to see if such open-source programs - free software available for programmers to modify or enhance - work reliably. That obstacle has slowed the software's advance.

To address the problem, Carnegie Mellon University, Intel and SpikeSource, a company that supports and tests corporate open-source projects, have devised a rating system intended to reduce confusion and guesswork in evaluating such software. The initiative, Business Readiness Ratings, is to be announced today at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in Portland, Ore.

The rating system, the sponsors say, will employ an open-source model with scores determined by those who use certain programs and contribute their judgments. The idea can be seen as a software version of the Zagat survey of restaurants - rankings determined by customers.

The rating system has 12 categories, including functionality, usability, quality, security, documentation and technical support. Each category is to be rated 1 to 5. There will also be filtering tools so a potential corporate user can specify its most important considerations.

The planned rating system will be described at www.openbrr.org, a site to be created Monday for the purpose of gathering comments.

"We've provided some leadership here, but this will live or die based on community acceptance and participation," said Anthony I. Wasserman, professor of software engineering at Carnegie Mellon University West at Moffett Field, Calif.

The rating system sounds promising, say some corporate users who have been told about it. Fidelity Investments, the big mutual fund company, has used open-source software for more than two years to build tailored software applications, and the testing process has been arduous.

"If there had been an initiative like this two years ago, we could have leapfrogged a lot of what we did," said Charlie Brenner, a senior vice president at Fidelity.

Companies want to spend their engineering time and money building useful software that can help them find customers, improve service and streamline purchasing, and not on evaluating software building blocks by themselves, said Kim Polese, chief executive of SpikeSource, a start-up firm in Redwood City, Calif.

By STEVE LOHR
The New York Times

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

Linux Development and LinuxCon

  • Linus Torvalds says GPL was defining factor in Linux's success
    Linus Torvalds and Dirk Hohndel, vice president and chief of open source at VMware, discussed the role that GNU GPL played in the success of Linux during a keynote conversation this week at LinuxCon NA in Toronto. Hohndel, who has been involved with the kernel for a very long time, said that during the past 25 years there have been many challenges, and one of the biggest challenges was the possibility of fragmentation. "How do we keep one single kernel?" he asked. "I used to be worried about fragmentation, and I used to think that it was inevitable at some point," said Torvalds. “Everyone was looking at the history of Linux and comparing it with UNIX. People would say that it’s going to fail because it's going to fragment. That's what happened before, so why even bother?" What made the difference was the license. "FSF [Free Software Foundation] and I don't have a loving relationship, but I love GPL v2," said Torvalds. "I really think the license has been one of the defining factors in the success of Linux because it enforced that you have to give back, which meant that the fragmentation has never been something that has been viable from a technical standpoint."
  • Making Use Of eBPF In The Mainline Linux Kernel
    One of the exciting innovations within the Linux kernel in the past few years has been extending the Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF) to become a more generalized in-kernel virtual machine. The eBPF work with recent versions of the Linux kernel allow it to be used by more than just networking so that these programs can be used for tracing, security, and more.
  • Linux turns 25 with a brilliant history
    Chances are, you use it every day. Linux runs every Android phone and tablet on Earth. And even if you’re on an iPhone or a Mac or a Windows machine, Linux is working behind the scenes, across the Internet, serving up most of the webpages you view and powering most of the apps you use. Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Wikipedia—it’s all running on Linux. Now, Linux is finding its way onto televisions, thermostats, and even cars. As software creeps into practically every aspect of our lives, so does the OS designed by Linus Torvalds.
  • Intel Lost Another Open-Source Driver Developer To Google Earlier This Summer
    There was another long-time Intel open-source Linux graphics driver developer that left the company earlier this summer and is now working at Google on the Chrome/Chromium OS graphics stack. Among the notable departures in the past few months from Intel's Open-Source Technology Center were Jesse Barnes, Wayland-founder Kristian Høgsberg, and Dirk Hohndel and apparently others that went under the radar or outside of our area of focus. Another graphics driver developer no longer at Intel is Chad Versace.
  • OpenGL ES 3.1 For Haswell Lands With Intel's Mesa Driver