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Open Source and Proprientary Approaches To Bugs and Quality

Why does it take so much longer for bugs to get fixed in proprietary software than in open source software? It isn't just the number of "eyeballs" looking at the source code, or even the quality of those eyeballs; it's a matter of attitude. Keep reading to find out more.

  1. Open Source and Proprientary Approaches To Bugs and Quality
  2. The Costs/Quality Correlation
  3. If There is a Will, There is a Way
  4. Will the Arrogance of Proprietary Code Companies Last Forever?
By: Blue Moon
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October 04, 2005

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"Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow."

This “religious” dispute over “open source versus proprietary code” seems to be one of the eternal discussions in IT.  The success of open source software cannot be denied, and certainly part of this success is due to the open source approach to bugs and quality. It is true that proprietary code companies have whole divisions of Quality Assurance Engineers and testers, which sometimes outnumber their development teams (for instance, for Microsoft the ratio is 1.4 testers to one developer), but does this translate to software of higher quality? Or more precisely: how often does this massive tester presence lead to more bugs discovered and fixed?

What makes open source so successful in dealing with bugs? The joint efforts of millions of people versus the strict hierarchy in proprietary code companies? The fact that volunteer open source programmers are not threatened with the loss of highly paid jobs when it becomes clear that their code is full of bugs? Or is it the lack of pressure to hide the bugs the boss has written, no matter how severe these bugs are? The answer is –- all of these and many more reasons that go to the very essence of open source are the factors for its success in dealing with bugs and achieving quality and reliability.

Those who work on open source software shares a different spirit. It is the free spirit of people who are determined to do things the way they must be done. Open source is also an open attitude to bugs and quality; when thousands of people have access to the code, sooner or later somebody will spot a bug. When there is a will to fix it, not to hide it, bugs are easier to overcome.

>>> More BrainDump Articles          >>> More By Blue Moon

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