Open Source Selection


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Speech given at the first Open Source Focus Group event, a series of events sponsored by IBM Italy.

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  • Speech given at the IBM Open Source Focus Group, an initiative sponsored by IBM Italy aimed at helping Italian public administrations to adopt open source technologies and practices.
  • Roberto is a computer industry insider of 17+ years standing. Up until 1994 Roberto had never heard of Linux, until he chanced to lead a group of geeks in starting up a mobile ISP with just a bunch of old PCs. Since then Roberto has worked in such hands-on roles as programmer and systems analyst, eventually founding an open source firm in 2001, and an open source consortium in 2004. Roberto has taken an active interest in several free/open source software organizations. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of SourceForge and Enterpise Open Source directory, and acts as the Institutional Relationship Manager for the Italian Association. Since 2003 Roberto has researched the economics of OSS, collaborating with universities and EC funded research projects. Roberto is also a technical writer for IT and computer-related magazines. He writes almost daily at his commercial open source blog:
  • Free software or Open Source is about users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. While free software and open source definitions are different, note that in the vast majority of cases a license that meets the OSI’s open source definition also meets the FSF’s free software definition. More about differences between FSF and OSI approved licenses can be found in the following paper “Capability Coordination in Modular Organization: Voluntary FS/OSS Production and the Case of Debian GNU/Linux” at and at my blog entry about approval processes
  • There is a general lack of knowledge about open source software packages, but for few dozen of products, either because of their long history or because created by open source vendors backed by VCs.
  • Actually many thousands of open source projects, included those that are considered by ISVs, SIs and solution providers “enterprise ready”, are largely unknown among the general public. It is interesting to notice that beyond infrastractural open source programs, open source now is entering the enterprise application arena. Moreover, many open source projects community-led – e.g. Apache, Eclipse, just to name the most famous foundations taking good care of projects falling under their 'umbrellas' – are building blocks used to create commercial products (either proprietary or fully open source) and frameworks for building enterprise software.
  • Twitter recently made public its open source love, disclosing contributions to 29 different projects and making names of all their contributors. Looking at the Twitter open source directory and reading the twitter engineering blog is clear that they invest time and effort to qualify, select and write open source software. As a matter of fact most of those projects are almost unknown with very few exceptions, are not commercially backed by vendors but yet are able to provide great value to Twitter and others.
  • SourceForge Global Traffic Report, as reported here:
  • SourceForge Italian Top downloads (April 2009)
  • Alternative Open Source website ( Anders Ingeman Rasmussen, Osalt Editor and owner of Airflake, takes care of keeping updated the website. More than 200.000 unique visitors each month visit searching for alternatives to commercial products
  • Enterprise Open Source directory (, started its life offline as the Open Source Catalog in November 2006, under the Optaros patronage, Bruno Von Rotz, EOS champion, is now responsible for mantaining the directory. Bruno Von Rotz recently apointed an advisory board of open source experts (, and he is planning to updated EOS website to make easier contributing with feedback and opinions.
  • From 2003 few different methodologies to select open source software have been created and applied. The first attempt was David Wheeler's list of OSS Mature and Safe (GRAM/S, Generally Recognized As Mature/Safe). The list, initially sponsored by the MITRE, wasn't mantained and today has just an historical value. Later first the Open Source Maturity model (OSMM) by Cap Gemini (2003) and Navica (2004), then the OpenBRR (2005) by the university of,Carnegie Mellon, O'Reilly, Intel and SpikeSource, and eventually the QSOS (2006) by Athos Origin all define an assessment process for OSS. Some of these methods focus on aspects related to the organisation behind the open source project, other methodologies look into technical and functional aspects.
  • The European Union within the fifth and sixth programme has funded projects around open source software quality assessment for 25-30 millions of euros. Despite many of these projects' goals were overlapping ( and a big picture is still missing, some of them elaborated interesting methodologies (e.g. QSOS), and others created useful tools (e.g. FLOSSMetrics) and extracted data from different sources (e.g. OSSMole).
  • Among the deliverables of these 8 eu-funded projects found over 60 different tools, among them: Bicho , bug tracking analyzer. Bloof, CVSAnalY and Statcvs/Statsvn versioning analyzers. GluTheos integrating few tools analysing repositories, Melquiades integrating tools analyzing multiple data sources. MailingListStats analyzing mailing-list powered by Mailman . . SLOCCOUNT for counting the lines of executable code in a project. O3S to compare open source projects belonging to the same category, google search tools and google trends to dig the internet for information not available from other sources, Ohloh API , REST-based interface to Ohloh meta-forge directory.
  • Input data sources Forges (e.g. SourceForge) contain different sources of information all in one place, and some of them enable queries specifying both projects' names and software categories. Meta-forges , i.e. forges collecting information provided by other sources (e.g.Ohloh), report many different metrics that often are repository specific. Tools and search engines Search engines , bookstores and other search tools provide information about news, popularity, book availability, commercial support and many other useful metrics. Many tools to analyze how participants in OSS projects collaborate through enabling technologies like: versioning systems (e.g. Bazaar, CVS, Git, JIRA, SVN, etc), bug-tracking systems, mailing-lists, wikis, forums, and instant messaging systems (IRC, etc). Expertise . SOS Open Source using many different sources of information help assessors to perform all open source qualification phases, starting from the creation of a shortlist of candidates . SOS Open Source manages abudance of information (projects happen to be hosted/reported in many forges/meta-forges); aggregation, correlation and analysis (information dispersed through different tools); and reliability (forges and meta-forges uptime is not always guarantee). The internal representation of a project gathers all available data in a “ meta-project record ” , and heuristics based on experts' wisdom help the assessor to reach a decision about all marks.
  • Funambol Open Source Mobile:
  • Funambol Maturity (4/4) Stability (unstable, stable but not old, stable and mantained): Stable and maintained (2) Maturity (< 1 year, 1-3 years, > 3 years): more than 3 years old (2) Funambol Adoption (5/6) Books (none, few, many): Few (1) References (unkown, case studies available on the website, case studies and implementations available on the net): Case studies and implementations available on the net (2) Popularity (unknown, small but growing trend, well known): Well known (2) Funambol Leadership (3/4) Management style Company-led (1) Team size More than 10 (2)
  • Funambol Services (4/4) Funambol Commercial Support (NA, available in a geographic area/lang, available from multiple vendors in different languages): Available from multiple vendors and in different languages (2) Training (NA, available in a geographic area/lang, available from multiple vendors in different languages): Available from multiple vendors and in different languages (2) Funambol Documentation (1/2) Documentation (NA, available only in one language, available in many languages): Available only in one language (1) Funambol QA (6/6) QA tools (NA, existing but not much used, very active use of tools): Very active use of tools (2) QA Process (NA, existing but not supported by tools, supported by tools): Supported by tools (2) Bugs reactivity (scarce, formalized but not reactive, formalized and reactive): Formalized and reactive (2) Funambol Packaging (2/8) Sun Solaris not existent (0) | Red Hat not existent (0) | Windows supported by third parties (1) Source (to be compiled, binaries available, virtual appliance available): Binaries available (1) Funambol Manutenability (5/6) Amount of comments (none, poorly commented; well commented): Well commented (2) Programming languages (more than 3 languages, one main language, one unique lang): one main language (1) Modularity (not modular, modular, available tools to create extensions): Available tools to create extensions (2)
  • Funambol License (0/2) License (copyleft [e.g. GPL, EUPL], corporate [e.g.MPL,EPL], permissive [e.g. Apache, BSD]): Copyleft (0) Funambol Modificability (2/2) Modificability (no way to propose modification, tools to access and modify code available but the process is not well defined, tools and procedures to propose modifications are available): Tools and procedures to propose modifications are available (2) Funambol Roadmap (1/2) Roadmap (NA, not detailed roadmap available, detailed roadmap available): Not detailed roadmap available (1) Funambol Sponsor (0/2) Sponsor (unique sponsor, community sponsor, foundation/consortium sponsor) Unique sponsor (0)
  • Kudos to Funambol for its very high total score!
  • Open Source Selection

    1. 1. Open Source Software Selection - methodologies and tools - Roberto Galoppini IBM Open Source Focus Group Event Rome, 10 March 2010
    2. 3. <ul><li>1994, Use: mobile VAS using Linux
    3. 4. 2001, Business: open source startup
    4. 5. 2002, Community:
    5. 6. 2003, Research: paper about Debian
    6. 7. 2004, Business: open source consortium
    7. 8. 2006, Networking: Commercial OS Blog
    8. 9. 2007, Business: Consulting worldwide
    9. 10. 2009: Standards: ODF Plugfest </li></ul>
    10. 17. Top Downloads (Italy)
    11. 22. GRAM/S, OSMM, BRR, QSOS
    12. 24. FLOSSMole, Mancoosi, QualiPSo, QSOS, Qualoss, SQO-OSS EDOS, FLOSSMetrics,
    13. 26. MailinglistStats, Melquiades, Google, Google Trends, O3S, Ohloh, OSSMole, Ohloh API, SLOCCount, etc Bicho, CVSAnalY,
    14. 28. OSSS Expertise Tools Search Engine Meta Forge Forge Forge Forge Forge SOS Open Source Logical Architecture
    15. 34. Roberto Galoppini SOS Open Source: blog: email: roberto.galoppini <at>