Thoughts in the Middle of the Night

I am just coming off an all-nighter – it has been a long time since I got so wrapped up in coding that I worked all night.

After I got to tired to code effectively, I got reading some blogs and thinking on various topics. One the things I was thinking about (obviously not for the first time) is the whole open source software movement. As always, there is a fair amount rhetoric out there regarding the superiority of open source software, the TCO of OSS applications, the advantages of development under the open source model, etc., and even conjecture about the ultimate demise of all non-OSS development.

A number of questions have always nagged at me about the claims of OSS:

  1. Believers frequently claim that OSS produces better software, with “better” defined in various ways – fewer defects, better functionality, more secure, etc. Is there empirical data to support this on a broad scale? Yes, there are examples frequently given, but usually it is a comparison of one or more highly successful OSS project against one or more bad examples of commercial, closed-source applications. Is there any broad, unbiased comparison of large numbers of OSS projects to large number of non-OSS projects?
  2. Similarly, Believers often claim that the process of open source development is much more efficient, effective, and innovative that its non-OSS counterparts. Again, OSS success stories are frequently compared to horror stories form the non-OSS world. Is there any large scale, unbiased comparison out there? For example, it is often quoted the a very large percentage of software projects are late, over-budget, or complete failures. Is the open source world any better? People always talk about the successes of OSS, but take a browse around SourceForge some time – there are a huge number of projects there that are never completed, never deliver anything, never get past Alpha, etc. The OSS statistics always seem to be somewhat selective.
  3. Many people predict the demise of closed-source development (and have for a long time). Are there any clear statistics out there as to the number of developers working on OSS versus non-OSS development (I know, many do both). Or is there information as to the economic force of OSS versus non-OSS – how much economic activity in the IT world is driven by OSS?

I don’t have answers to any of these right now – just some thoughts which occurred to me through the night – hopefully I will have time to dig deeper into this over the next while.

Microsoft Windows Vista and Paranoia

There is nothing particularly new in this article Forget about the WGA! 20+ Windows Vista Features and Services Harvest User Data for Microsoft – From your machine! – Softpedia, but it was referenced on a blog post I came read this evening. I few thoughts came to mind:

  1. From what I have seen of the various services which collect information, most seem to be collecting information to improve the OS, adapt to threats, or protect the intellectual property contained within the software (I am not arguing for or against the IP protection, but if you installed the OS, you accepted the EULA, and are bound by it – no one forced you to do so).
  2. Despite the deep paranoia of the various conspiracy theorists, Microsoft really has little use for most of your personal information, and it is not really worth the time or effort to collect it. You are not that important.
  3. Unless you are doing something illegal, none of the information collected is a threat to you.
  4. It is interesting and ironic that a site posting this article to help protect all of us from evil Microsoft collecting our information, requires you to register and provide your eMail address in order to post a comment.
  5. That in a world where much of our personal information, communications, and movement is tracked in great detail (and with questionable legality) that people can get this excited about anything Microsoft might be collecting!