Open source development as a software engineering concept

mongooseriverSoftware and s/w Development

Jun 7, 2012 (4 years and 10 months ago)


Open source development as a
software engineering concept

Daniel Le Berre

The University Of Newcastle

Overview of the lecture

History of open Source


Major features of Open Source development

Why to open source (summary)

Making money with open source

Case study: Netbeans/Forte4J (Sun)

Brief History of Open Source

1984: The GNU (GNU’s Not Unix) project is
launched by Richard Mathew Stallman (RMS)

Notion of “Free Software”

1991: Linus Torvalds announces the availability of
his Unix kernel,

1997: Eric Raymond writes “The cathedral and the
Bazaar”. (using “free software”).

1998: The term “
open source
” is used by ER after
the announce of Netscape to release the sources of
its browser.

Source: Two religions

Richard Stallman (FSF)

Eric Raymond (OSI)

Free Software Foundation

Stallman is a saint in the Church of Emacs

Sainthood in the Church of Emacs requires living
a life of purity
but in the Church of Emacs, this
does not require celibacy (a sigh of relief is
heard). Being holy in our church means

a wholly free operating system
GNU/Linux is a
good choice
not putting any non
software on your computer
. Join the Church of
Emacs, and you too can be a saint!

Open Source Initiative


the real reason for the re
labeling is a
marketing one
We're trying to pitch our concept to the


now. We have a
winning product
, but our positioning, in
the past, has been awful. The term "free software" has a
load of
fatal baggage
; to a businessperson, it's too
redolent of fanaticism and flakiness and strident anti
commercialism. Mainstream corporate CEOs and CTOs
will never buy "free software,"

manifestos and clenched
fists and all.
But if we take the very same tradition, the
same people, and the same free
software licenses and
change the label to "open source"

that, they'll buy.

The meaning of “free” software

Quick Open Source definition (1)

Open source promotes software reliability
and quality by supporting
independent peer


rapid evolution

of source code.

Quick Open Source Definition (2)

Open source promotes software reliability and
quality by supporting
independent peer

rapid evolution

of source code.
To be OSI certified, the software must be
distributed under a license that guarantees
the right to read, redistribute, modify, and
use the software freely.

The GNU Project

A free Unix
like software system

It is not just an OS, but also







Initially a new kernel to extend Minix

Then it develops by himself

Linux is
just a kernel
, not a complete OS!

GNU Tools + Linux = GNU/Linux

(alternative to GNU/Linux exists: GNU/Hurd for instance)

The cathedral and The bazaar

First worldwide claim of the importance of
free software development


Netscape decides to release Mozilla

The Halloween documents written at Microsoft

Huge media cover!

Famous Open Source Projects

Emacs /GCC/GNU Tools (FSF)

GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD

(Free Unix)

Apache (daemon http, 60% of the web

KDE /GNOME (desktops for Linux)

MySQL (database)

Some [Commercial] Open Source

Mozilla / Netscape: web browser

OpenOffice / StarOffice: MS Office clone

NetBeans / Forte for Java: Java IDE

Darwin / MacOs X : operating system

Open Source definition


Open source doesn't just mean access to the source

Free Redistribution

Source Code

Derived Works

Integrity of The Author's Source Code

No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

Distribution of License

License Must Not Be Specific to a Product

License Must Not Contaminate Other Software

Free Redistribution

The license
shall not restrict any party from selling or giving
away the software

as a component of an

software distribution containing programs from several
different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or
other fee for such sale.

Source Code

The program
must include source code, and must allow
distribution in source code as well as compiled

Where some form of a product is not distributed with
source code, there must be a

publicized means of
obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable


preferably, downloading via the
Internet without charge.
The source code must be the

form in which a programmer would modify the
. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not

allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a
preprocessor or translator are not allowed.

Derived Works

The license
must allow modifications and derived works
, and
must allow them to be distributed under

the same terms as
the license of the original software.

Integrity of The Author's Source

The license may restrict source
code from being distributed
in modified form only if the license allows the distribution
of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of
modifying the program at build time. The license must
explicitly permit distribution of software built from
modified source code. The license may require derived
works to carry a different name or version number from
the original software.

No Discrimination Against
Persons or Groups

The license
must not discriminate against any person or
group of persons

No Discrimination Against Fields
of Endeavor

The license
must not restrict anyone from making use of the
program in a specific field of endeavor

For example, it
may not restrict the program from being used in a
business, or from being used for genetic research.

Distribution of License

The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom
the program is redistributed without the

need for execution
of an additional license by those parties.

License Must Not Be Specific to
a Product

The rights attached to the program
must not depend on the
program's being part of a particular software distribution
If the program is extracted from that distribution and used
or distributed within the terms of the program's license, all
parties to whom the program is redistributed should have
the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction
with the original software distribution.

License Must Not Contaminate
Other Software

The license must not place restrictions on other software that
is distributed along with the licensed software. For
example, the license must not insist that all other programs
distributed on the same medium must be open

Key of Success

Launching a project/participating
is cheap

Need only a computer and an internet access

Internet = worldwide!

Evolutionary concept

(genetic algorithm,
Darwinian process)

Several variants of a program can be created, the best
will survive.


Making something

Peer recognition

Every good work of software starts by
scratching a developer’s personal itch

To solve an interesting problem, start by finding a problem
that is interesting to you

Usually, open source software is coming from someone
specific need (writing a driver for its own graphic card, an
emacs mode for its software, etc.)

People needs are different:




The software evolves in different ways in parallel

“Good programmers know what to write.
Great ones know what to rewrite (and reuse)”

The next best thing to having good ideas is
recognizing good ideas from your users.
Sometimes the latter is better.

Adapting software for its own need save time and

Classical concept of OOP/software engineering

“Plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow.”

“Often, the most striking and innovative
solutions come from realizing that your
concept of the problem was wrong.”

“Perfection (in design) is achieved not
when there is nothing more to add, but
rather when there is nothing more to take

“Treating your users as co
developers is your
hassle route to rapid improvement and
effective debugging.”

If you treat your beta
testers as if they're
your most valuable resource, they will
respond by becoming your most valuable

Beware: works well only if your users are also

“Release early. Release Often. And Listen to
your customers.”

Releases can happen every day!

Using a stable/development policy can help.

(Linux kernel: 2.0.2 stable, 2.1.4 developer)

Helps to keep users/developers interested

“Given a large enough beta
tester and co
developer base, almost every problem will be
characterized quickly”

Internet is worldwide, so many (an
unexpected) potential beta
tester available.

You do not pay for the software, so you
understand some bugs can occur.

“Delphi” effect

Against the law: “adding developers to a
late project makes it later.”

Necessary Preconditions to Bazaar design

Needs something runnable and testable to
play with.

Certain level of design and coding skills.

A bazaar project coordinator or leader
must have good people and
communication skills.

Against the Bazaar

Running unstable software (defect

People are quick to volunteer to help, but
slow to help.”

Open Source and Security

Doesn't closed source help protect against crack

Security holes can be fixed quickly with open
source software.

The Quake cheats:

Problem of conception (tradeoff security/performances),
not of Open Source

Why Open Source ?

Reliability/stability/scalability are critical

Correctness of design and implementation is not
readily verified by means other than independent
peer review

the software is critical to the user’s control of
his/her business

the software establishes or enables a common
computing and communication infrastructure.

Key methods are part of common engineering

Some licenses

GNU General Public License (GNU GPL)

All distributed software including GPL code must be


contaminating GPL (for libraries)

The Artistic license

To keep an “artistic”control over the development of a
package (“standard version”).

Others Open Source Licenses

The BSD license

The MIT license

The Mozilla Public License v. 1.0 (MPL)

The Qt Public License (QPL)

The IBM Public License

The MITRE Collaborative Virtual Workspace License (CVW License)

The Ricoh Source Code Public License

The Python license

The zlib/libpng license

The Apache Software License

The Vovida Software License v. 1.0

The Sun Internet Standards Source License (SISSL)

The Intel Open Source License

The Mozilla Public License 1.1 (MPL 1.1)

The Jabber Open Source License

Making money from Open

There are several strategies

Positioner (Netscape)

Widget Frosting (Apple)

Give Away the recipe, Open a restaurant (Redhat)

Accessorizing (O’Reilly)

Free the future, sell the present (Alladin)

Free the software, sell the brand

Free the software, sell the content

(see The Magic Cauldron, Eric Raymond, for more details)

leader/Market Positionner

To create or maintain a market position for
proprietary software that generates a direct
revenue stream. In the most common variant,
source client software enables sales of
server software, or subscription/advertising
revenue associated with a portal site.

Examples: Mozilla, OpenOffice

Widget Frosting

For hardware manufacturers (including
anything from peripheral boards all the way
up to entire computer system)

Advantage: nothing to loose

Example: Apple with Darwin

Give away the recipe, open a

Create a market position for services (instead of
proprietary software in the Loss
Positioner case)

Examples: Cygnus Solution (translation of GNU
tools) RedHat, Mandrake and all other Linux
commercial distributions.

Local example (Newcastle): Cybersite


To sell accessories for open source
software. (from mugs, T
shirt up to books)

Example: O’Reilly

From closed to open source

A software can be initially released as closed
software and becoming open source

Example: the game DOOM (Id Software)

Initially (late 93): the first one in his category!

(better to stay closed source)

After a while, competitors appeared (Duke Nukem)

Late 97: releasing source opened a second market for
the game!

Case study: NetBeans/Forte4J

started as a student project

in the Czech Republic (originally
called Xelfi), in 1996. The goal was to write a Delphi
like Java IDE in
Java. A company

was formed around this project, called NetBeans.
There were two commercial versions of NetBeans, called Developer
2.0 and 2.1. Around May of 1999, NetBeans released a beta of what
was to be Developer 3.0

some months later,
in October '99, NetBeans
was acquired by Sun Microsystems
. After some additional
development time, Sun released the Forte for Java Community Edition

the same IDE that had been in beta as NetBeans Developer 3.0.

There had always been interest in going Open Source at NetBeans.
June 2000, Sun open
sourced the NetBeans IDE

Forte4J conclusions (1)

Feature Set

The developer community gets more of the features they want, with none of the
commercial clutter.

The community really has gotten more of the features they want
. However, a few
points should probably be deducted for some

"commercial clutter" features
that nevertheless help the product. This probably rates as an "A



The technology evolves faster as more developer effort can be applied to the

The technology has evolved very quickly, and the collaborative effects are
notable. Several companies are helping push the

technology forward, but
are few miracles and the laws of software development physics still apply
This probably rates a "B".

Forte4J conclusions (2)


Quality happens sooner as every beta tester can be a bug fixer.

This has proven true, particularly in the early days of the NetBeans
. If the population of users gets biased increasingly toward

commercial developers less inclined towards fixing tool bugs, this
effect will diminish. On balance, however, the effort involved in the

testing of bug fixes can be expected to increase as the code base grows,

so the bug fixes themselves become a less significant

benefit. This
probably gets a "B" as well.

Forte4J conclusions (3)


Development costs are lower as a result of harnessing talent pools from around
the world.

Development costs are not measurably lower, and there is a lot of conflicting data.

Since it can't really be measured, this aspect will

have to be given an



User populations are higher as the software is free in binary and source form.

User populations are indeed dramatically higher
. In fact, the biggest 'competitor' to
the Forte for Java IDE is Emacs

another free

software product. This aspect
deserves an "A".

Forte4J conclusions (4)


(independent software vendors)

ISVs are more likely to base products on open source, rather than
proprietary code basis.

This also seems to have been borne out in reality. It is interesting to note
that most ISVs have not yet been willing to put their own intellectual
property into Open Source,
but they are very attracted by Sun's doing
. This also earns an "A".


Eric Raymond parish “Open Source

Richard Stallman parish “Free Software

Eric Raymond writings

Open Source = gift culture?

“Gift cultures are adaptations to
abundance. Appears in populations that do
not have significant material
problems with survival goods.”

“The only available measure of competitive
success is reputation among one’s peer”

Same thing for research culture/academia