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Open Source Growing At an Exponential Rate 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the gaining-ground dept.
sipmeister writes "Two computer scientists who work for enterprise software giant SAP have shown that open source is growing at an exponential rate. Not only is the code base growing exponentially, but also the number of viable projects. Researchers Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle analyzed the database of open source startup ohloh.net and looked at the last 16 years of growth in open source. They consistently got the best fit for the data using an exponential model. Relating this to open source market revenue, Desphande and Riehle conclude that open source is eating into closed source at a non-trivial pace."
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Open Source Growing At an Exponential Rate

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  • Viral License? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomcircuit (938963) on Friday March 14, 2008 @12:34AM (#22748046) Homepage
    So the accusation that the GPL is a viral license wasn't just a bunch of bullshit?
  • Competition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Friday March 14, 2008 @12:39AM (#22748070) Homepage Journal

    Relating this to open source market revenue, Desphande and Riehle conclude that open source is eating into closed source at a non-trivial pace.

    Welcome to competition. Open Source tends to cover the areas where software is well established and should be commoditized. As much as we'd all like to keep charging $250 a copy for a library to unzip files, technology marches on. Commercial providers of technology must work harder to win the dollars of their customer. And I for one think the results can only be positive.

    What's particularly interesting to note is that web services are the latest craze in software development. The idea is that the value is not so much in the software itself, but in the service provided. This means that both using and supporting Open Source development can help these companies deliver real value to their customers rather than twiddling their thumbs on problems that are long-solved.
  • Re:Competition (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday March 14, 2008 @12:53AM (#22748156)

    What's particularly interesting to note is that web services are the latest craze in software development.

    Sorry, I must have missed that memo. How many major name web services actually make money today?

    I would wager that the overwhelming majority of software development is still nothing to do with web services, and moreover that those web services that do have real value to someone are mostly (like a lot of software) written for in-house use and not to make money through the software-as-a-service model. I would also wager that of those businesses set up to operate on a software-as-a-service model, very few actually have healthy growth and a sustainable business plan. Indeed, as with OSS and the "free product, paid support" idea, I expect a few major areas will surely have critical mass, but a whole bunch behind them won't.

  • Re:What is growing? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Friday March 14, 2008 @01:29AM (#22748330) Homepage Journal
    - FireFox
    - Apache Webserver
    - Derby Database
    - Sun Java Server Application Server (aka Glassfish)
    - PDFBox
    - TortoiseCVS
    - OpenPortal
    - Netbeans
    - Rhino
    - GWT
    - POI
    - PostgreSQL
    - MySQL
    - Solaris
    - BCEL
    - ANT
    - FOP
    - Rome (RSS)
    - FFMPEG
    - VLC
    - FileZilla
    - GIMP
    - DOSBox
    - QEMU
    - Cygwin
    - JHDL
    - Bouncy Castle
    - jTDS
    - PHP
    - GCC

    The list above is an off-the-top-of-my-head list of Open Source projects that I use and rely upon on a regular basis. It has grown significantly over the years, going from a relatively small list of key programs to permeating nearly every aspect of my day-to-day life and work. If you did a similar inventory of the OSS products you use, I wouldn't be surprised if you came up with a similarly growing list.

    So while the article may not answer all your questions, some answers can be found by just looking closer to home. :-)
  • Re:What is growing? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Friday March 14, 2008 @02:54AM (#22748618) Homepage

    Let me pad your list a bit with things of the top of my head

    • Subversion
    • Linux
    • MythTV
    • OpenOffice.org
    • Thunderbird
    • Python
    • Gtk
    • Qt
    • SQLite
    • Audacity
    • VLC
    • GCC
    • Eclipse
    • KDE
    • KDEvelop
    • Notepad++
    • Samba
    • NFS
    • OpenSSH
    • Pidgin
    • Inkscape

    And thats just the stuff I use regularly.

  • Re:What is growing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Friday March 14, 2008 @03:46AM (#22748798) Homepage
    Open-source, in my experience, is not particularly good at innovating. It is, however, quite good at commoditizing existing products, and in some notable cases (Firefox) it's good at improving existing systems to be far better than the original version.

    Basically, if you make something new and exciting, and it's popular, and it provides a very useful service, but does so extremely badly, it's a prime candidate for being dominated by open-source.
  • Re:I for one (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Friday March 14, 2008 @07:24AM (#22749462) Homepage Journal
    But if everyone is an overlord, who are the serfs?
    Or is that the real point?
  • Re:Viral License? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Teckla (630646) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:47AM (#22749814)

    i find complaints about the GPL being viral somewhat amusing, seeing as it is invariably closed-source software which is viral and forces everybody else to buy it if they want to interact with it. the GPL however produces free software which everybody can interact with as they wish.

    Source code that is licensed under the GPL is viral in nature. Richard Stallman wrote the GPL that way on purpose so that it would tend to spread to more and more source code. It's his weapon of choice to help shape the software world the way he thinks is best.

    I don't personally agree with his belief that all source code should be open, as I believe that party A should have the freedom to buy closed source software from party B if that is their choice. Mr. Stallman would have you believe that party A and party B are behaving immorally and unethically.

    It reminds me a bit of the prostitution debate: A third party passing judgment on two consenting adults that wish to make a transaction. Except Mr. Stallman didn't stop at passing judgment; he devised a plan that attempts to reduce those kinds of transactions: It's called the GPL.

    Closed source is many things, some of those things being good, some of those things being bad, but you always have the choice, as a user or a developer, to simply not use it.

    Likewise, you always have the choice, as a user or developer, to not use code (binary or source) if it's licensed under the GPL.

    I, personally, take a pragmatic approach: I use software licensed under the GPL, but I will not contribute, because I simply don't share Mr. Stallman's beliefs.

    And now I will be modded into oblivion, because a dissenting opinion regarding the GPL is not allowed on Slashdot.

  • Re:Competition (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Friday March 14, 2008 @01:22PM (#22752702) Homepage Journal
    ``Welcome to competition. Open Source tends to cover the areas where software is well established and should be commoditized. As much as we'd all like to keep charging $250 a copy for a library to unzip files, technology marches on. Commercial providers of technology must work harder to win the dollars of their customer.''

    I agree with the first part, but the last sentence isn't necessarily true. I've worked in commercial software development for some time now, and there has been an ongoing shift towards open source libraries and development tools. Open source makes it harder to compete when you are in the business of making that kind of software, but it also provides an incredible boon to software development in general: where you used to have to code up your own frameworks or pay someone else to do it, you can now grab an open source framework from the web. In some cases, you can even develop your whole application by gluing together some open source frameworks.

    This, I think, is a really great and really underappreciated success of open source. Using what open source provides us with, we can now make yesteryear's software with less effort. And with the effort that is left, we can build more advanced things.
  • Re:Viral License? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dookiesan (600840) on Friday March 14, 2008 @03:17PM (#22753840)
    If I wrote an xml-reader I wouldn't want someone selling a toolkit for xml manipulation using my code. They would be taking credit for my work. However, if someone wants to use that same code for reading their config files, I would be ok with that.

    I'm not trying to speak for every author of GPL code, but I don't believe it is consistent with some intentions. If there is a license that prevents the former situation, but allows the latter that would be great. No one can resell any upgrade to my xml-reader without giving back the source, and yet it can be useful as a tool in many projects (even closed source ones).

    I'm not crying about anything, and I _will_ open source my code (and it won't be an xml-reader or linear algebra package). The problem is that the two desires above are conflicting because of gray areas in between.

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