Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Rating System Will Evaluate Free Software

Filed under

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, 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.

The New York Times

More in Tux Machines

DevOps Handbook and Course

Leftovers: Gaming

Android Leftovers

  • Off We Go: Oracle Officially Appeals Google's Fair Use Win
    It was only a matter of time until this happened, but Oracle has officially appealed its fair use Java API loss to the Federal Circuit (CAFC). As you recall, after a years-long process, including the (correct) ruling that APIs are not covered by copyright being ridiculously overturned by CAFC, a new trial found that even if APIs are copyright-eligible, Google's use was covered by fair use. Oracle then tried multiple times to get Judge William Alsup to throw out the jury's ruling, but failed. In fact, on Oracle's second attempt to get Alsup to throw out the jury's ruling, citing "game changing" evidence that Google failed to hand over important information on discovery, it actually turned out that Oracle's lawyers had simply failed to read what Google had, in fact, handed over.
  • On iMessage’s Stickiness
  • Physical RAM attack can root Android and possibly other devices [Ed: Memory flipping is not at all an Android problem]

Leftovers: OSS and Sharing

  • Enterprise Open Source Programs Flourish -- In Tech and Elsewhere
    If you cycled the clock back about 15 years and surveyed the prevailing beliefs about open source technology at the time, you would find nowhere near the volume of welcome for it that we see today. As a classic example, The Register reported all the way back in 2001 that former CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer made the following famous statement in a Chicago Sun-Times interview: "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches."
  • 5 More Reasons to Love Kubernetes
    In part one of this series, I covered my top five reasons to love Kubernetes, the open source container orchestration platform created by Google. Kubernetes was donated to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation in July of 2015, where it is now under development by dozens of companies including Canonical, CoreOS, Red Hat, and more. My first five reasons were primarily about the project’s heritage, ease of use, and ramp-up. The next five get more technical. As I mentioned in part one, choosing a distributed system to perform tasks in a datacenter is much more complex than looking at a spreadsheet of features or performance. And, you should make your decision based on your own needs and team dynamics. However, this top 10 list will give you my perspective, as someone who has been using, testing, and developing systems for a while now.
  • Bankers plan to give Corda blockchain code to Hyperledger project
  • Are European Banks Falling Behind in Blockchain Development?
  • Hyperledger adds 10 new members to support open source distributed ledger framework
    The Linux Foundation's Hyperledger project has announced that 10 new members have joined the project in order to help create an open standard for distributed ledgers for a new generation of transactional applications.
  • The Blockchain Created By Ethereum's Fork is Forking Now
    A blockchain that was born out of the rejection of a contentious technical change is on the cusp of making a decision some argue contradicts its core values. That's the situation the developers behind ethereum classic face ahead of a hard fork expected to be enacted on its blockchain on 25th October (should network participants approve the upgrade). Originally formed in reaction to a decision by the ethereum community to edit its "immutable" ledger, the fork caused an ideological schism among its enthusiasts. Alarmed by the action (or seeing a chance to profit by continuing the original network), miners and speculators began running its blockchain, which developers named "ethereum classic". Other investors then bought into the vision, and today, there are currently 85m classic ethers (ETC) worth $87m.
  • Red Hat: OpenStack moving beyond the proof-of-concept phase
    Red Hat’s annual poll found that 43 percent of respondents have deployed the cloud platform in production, compared to just 16 percent one year ago. The company reckons the increase reflects efforts by the community to address complexity and deployment issues that were previously known to have been a major roadblock to adoption. The study also noted that the steep learning curve for deploying OpenStack is being addressed as a growing number of engineers become certified to operate the platform. In addition, Red Hat cited cloud native application development as another driving force in enterprise adoption of OpenStack.
  • OpenStack Summit Emphasizes Security, Interoperability
    From security to interoperabilty to use cases and everything in-between, this week's OpenStack Summit from Oct. 25 to 28 in Barcelona, is set to illuminate the cloud. This year's event, which brings together vendors, operators and developers of the open-source cloud platform, will offer more sessions than ever before on securing OpenStack clouds. The Barcelona Summit follows the release of the OpenStack Newton milestone, which debuted on Oct. 6. While discussions about the most recent release are always part of every OpenStack Summit, so too are case-studies from operators of OpenStack clouds.
  • A complete view into application security must include open source [Ed: Black Duck spam (self-promotional marketing) takes form of FOSS FUD, as usual]
  • While Other Cities Go Linux, Toronto Bets Big on Microsoft Software [Ed: Toronto joins the Dark Forces]
    "" The partnership between Microsoft and the city of Toronto certainly comes at the right time, as other authorities across the world already announced decisions to give up on Windows and Office and replace them with open-source alternatives. Munich is the city that started the entire trend, but it wasn’t at all a smooth transition. Some of the local officials proposed a return to Microsoft software, claiming that training and assistance actually impacted productivity and explaining that in the end it all pays off to use Microsoft software because of the familiarity that users experience, which translates to a substantial productivity boost. And yet, the transition off Microsoft products is happening and more authorities are willing to do it, not necessarily because of the costs, but also due to security concerns, as is the case of Russia.
  • Open-Source Toolkit Lets Communities Build Their Own Street Furniture
    Despite the vast amount of customization options technology has allotted us, it can still be difficult to create projects that are community-centric. For example, though 3D printing can help us personalize our own jewelry, it has limited use for outfitting parks with trash cans or equipping bus stops with comfortable seating. Still, hyper-customizable tech has taught us the convenience of managing our own products, eliminating the bureaucratic complications of mass produced, production-line assembly. Leveraging this ideology to better the community, the Better Block Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to building local communities, has developed an open-source toolkit for creating a variety of fixtures for communities. The platform, called Wikiblock, allows designs ranging from benches to beer garden fences to be downloaded and taken to a maker space where a computer-aided machine can print the design from plywood. Similar to Ikea’s simplistic, DIY approach, the printed wood can be assembled by hand, without glue or nails.
  • How to make a lighted, porch bag for Halloween
    While I typically go all out for Halloween decorations every year, I'll admit I'm feeling tired this year. I still wanted to delight the neighborhood kids with simple details, so I decided to make lighted bags for my front porch railing this year. If you are someone who has a paper cutting machine like the Silhouette, this project will likely be a lot easier. Simply import the SVG file, resize for whatever size box you want, cut out, and assemble. However, for those of you who don't have one, I've included instructions on how to make this project without any machine at all. The box was created with the help of artists who share their art at OpenClipArt. I also used Inkscape to create the SVG file. If you don't like bats, you could modify the SVG file to include other types of clipart in the center of the bag.