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If There is a Will, There is a Way - BrainDump

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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What is stopping proprietary code companies from dealing honestly with their bugs is not lack of money, or time, or qualified staff, but lack of desire to do it unless forced by circumstances.

In general, bugs are not something that developers and companies gladly admit to. It is absolutely logical that nobody is happy to admit his or her mistakes, no matter if commercial interests are involved or it is purely ego.  And as one can  conclude, commercial interests are a very strong motive for hiding bugs, probably more powerful than even the ego of somebody who is in power to prevent disclosure of his or her mistakes. But a mistake cannot be corrected, if it is not identified.

Just compare this attitude to that of the open approach of the Firefox Foundation, which pays $500 for reporting a severe bug! Are you still wondering why, for some proprietary code companies, it takes years to fix bugs?

Fortunately, the pressure from open source seems to be a driving force for proprietary code companies to adopt better approaches to bugs and quality. Although it is still not a rule, proprietary code companies do invite external testers and reviewers. Microsoft, for example, discloses parts of their code to selected external testers. I bet no one believes that Microsoft does this out of altruistic motives.

Usually external testers and reviewers are representatives of selected partners who will use the software, not the general developers' community, but still it is better than nothing. If these external testers and reviewers have the expertise and above all the freedom to be honest, this could help eliminate a lot of bugs --  either before the software is released, or later when there is a production version, external eyes can help to make it more stable.

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

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