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Why Open Source Software Development

By Amar Jyoti

First, what is Open source?
Open source software such as Linux is freely downloadable software that allows anyone to inspect and improve the source code. While the cost benefits of Open source are widely discussed and known, what is lesser known is the reliability, performance and security aspects. In this article, see how Open source stacks against proprietary software.

Reliability
Repeated tests have shown that open source platforms are more reliable than proprietary ones.

Open source vs Commercial software reliability test
According to a Fuzz study, 1995 Fuzz Revisited, several proprietary and open source applications were crash tested by feeding random characters. Open source applications had higher reliability by this method. In this study, around 23% commercial applications crashed as compared to 9% open source applications.

Linux is more reliable than Windows NT
Over 10 months, Zdnet ran Windows NT, RedHat, Caldera and OpenLinux on identical systems. Windows NT crashed an average of once every 6 weeks. Linux servers never went down.
MySQL Database Server had lesser defects than proprietary databases.
Reasoning code reviewed MySQL code along with other proprietary database. They found that MySQL code had 21 defects in 236,000 lines of MySQL source code, translating to around 0.09 defects/KSLOC. Other databases had defects of over 0.57 defects/KSLOC more than 6 times that of MySQL.

Performance
Linux with windows on similar hardware platforms were stress and speed tested.

Linux was faster than a Windows 2000
In a study conducted by HP, an Oracle 9i R2 Enterprise edition was run on RedHat Linux and Windows 2000 machines with same configuration. RedHat ran faster. See Windows report vs RedHat Linux Report.

Apache/Linux was faster than IIS/Windows NT combo
According to a Zdnet study, Caldera Linux with Apache serves Web pages 50% faster than IIS with Windows NT.

For Dynamic Websites, Apache/Linux is faster than IIS/Windows
According to this study by german magazine, c`t , for Dynamic sites such as shopping carts or Content Management systems, Apache with Linux combination is faster than IIS with Windows NT

Security
Open source platforms are far more secure than proprietary systems simply because security holes, if any are detected faster and corrected before it affects users.

IIS attacked more than Apache
IIS was attacked 1400 times more frequently than Apache in 2001. In 2002, IIS was attacked 17 million times compared to 12,000 of apache.

Gartner Group suggest that businesses migrate to Apache from IIS due to poor security track record
IIS security record is so poor that Gartner Group suggested that businesses hit by Code Red and Nimda shift to alternatives.

More defaced sites run on Windows servers compared to Linux
59% of defaced systems ran Windows, 21% Linux, 8% Solaris, 6% BSD, and 6% all others in the period of August 1999 through December 2000. Windows systems have had nearly 3 times as many defacements as GNU/Linux systems.

Linux systems are relatively immune from attacks
New Evans Data Survey Reports Security Breaches Rare in Linux Environment. 78% of the respondents to the GNU/Linux developers survey have never experienced an unwanted intrusion and 94% have operated virus-free.

The points listed above are by no means complete. The benefits are out there for all to see. Large corporations are also shifting to Linux, in various degrees, through their intra-nets or websites and finally to their desktops. Amazon shifted to Linux saving millions of dollars. Online Brokerage, E*Trade moved their systems to Linux due to performance reasons. BP installed 3000 Linux servers in their gas stations for increased reliability. That makes it important that software products of the future should run on Linux and other Open source platforms, not just for cost benefits but because it simply makes good common sense.

References: Material for this article is based on the research conducted by David A. Wheeler @ dwheeler.com





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