Archive for the ‘open source software’ tag
450M lines of code say large open source and small closed source software projects are worst quality
The good news is that software keeps getting better, with fewer than one error per thousand lines of code. The bad news is that both large open-source projects and small proprietary software projects tend to have worse quality than average.
Development testing service Coverity’s annual scan report, which is based on data from almost 500 software projects with a total of over 450 million lines of code, says that almost 230,000 defects were found and fixed. And while the average defect density per thousand lines of code was almost identical between open source and proprietary, there was an interesting diversion in the results.
Open source projects, Coverity says, tend to have .69 bugs per thousand lines of code, virtually the same as proprietary software, which tends to have .68 errors per thousand lines. But large closed-source projects — over one million lines of code — tend to have 33 percent fewer errors than small closed-source projects, with .66 errors over each thousand lines to .98 in smaller projects. And small open source projects have a massive 70 percent fewer errors than large open source software, with only .44 defects to .75.
The difference, according to Coverity, is that small open source projects are labors of love by individual developers or small teams, who carefully comb through their code to reduce errors. Large open source projects, on the other hand, tend to lack standardized processes to ensure code quality, and so the error rate increases.
In commercial or closed-source software, developers experience almost opposite conditions. Large projects tend to have well-defined formal testing processes, which ensure higher code quality, and small projects tend to be hasty, quick endeavors that show the effects of growing pains, as no standardized testing is in place.
In other words, if you are looking for bug-free apps, look for a small open source project or a large proprietary piece of software, because those have the best chance of having few defects and high overall code quality.
All of the data in infographic form:
The do-it-yourself (DIY), open-source drone movement is turning into a real business that could disrupt the commercial and military drone industry. It’s another case of how exploiting the curiosity of hackers can turn into a commercial opportunity.
That’s the view of Chris Anderson (pictured), the editor of Wired magazine and a drone hobbyist and businessman on the side. He spoke about this DIY trend and his own efforts to lead it in a talk at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas today.
Anderson said the whole project is “open sourcing the military industrial complex.” Drones have been the domain of the U.S. military, which has created huge awareness about drones such as the Predator and the Reaper by using them against terrorist targets in a variety of countries where troops can’t go. Those drones cost millions of dollars, but the DIY drone business is focused on created ubiquitous drones that cost tens of dollars.
Anderson’s interest started five years ago as he sought ways to get his kids interested in science. He got them to make robots with Lego Mindstorms robot kits, but their interest didn’t last. Then he tried to get them to fly a remote-controlled airplane, which ended up stuck in a tree. The kids lost interest. But the idea of combining the DIY nature of the robot and the airplane sent Anderson “straight down the rabbit hole,” he said. Then he created the first Lego unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone.
His interest in drones led to a web site called DIY Drones, which has blossomed into a community with 30,000 registered members. The site gets 1.4 million page views a month, has 6,000 blog posts, 8,000 discussion threads, and 80,000 comments a year. Anderson has marshaled that community to create open-source software for all sorts of drones. And Anderson co-founded a for-profit company, 3D Robotics, (with a 19-year-old Mexican teen) that creates computing hardware for drones. That hardware itself is built on the Arduino open-source computing platform. The DIY software helps hobbyists create a wide variety of drones, like a drone you can fly with a Wii game console controller.
That hardware can be used to build all sorts of drones, such as “quad copter” drones based on the hardware of the Parrot AR Drone. The Parrot drones are controlled by humans, but the 3D Robotics hardware converts them so they can be completely autonomous, fulfilling the definition of a drone.
3D Robotics sells the drone hardware for $199 or so, enabling the community members to take their software and run it on a hardware platform and thereby field their own flying drones.
“Anything that is remote-controlled, you just put this in there and suddenly you’ve got a drone,” Anderson said.
There are some legal issues around drones and whether they can be flown in commercial airspace, but Anderson said he has a legal opinion from lawyers that the business is legal, since the DIY drones are so far used for non-commercial purposes.
The uses of the drones are creative. You can go surfing and have a drone take off from the beach, fly over you, turn on its camera and then film you from above as you surf.
The drone hardware is priced at about 2.6 times the hardware bill-of-material cost, allowing a 40 percent margin for retailers and a 40-percent margin for the company. But since the software is free, the end product can be quite cost efficient compared to competitors who have to try to keep pace with an all-volunteer software community, Anderson said. That means that Chinese knock-off rivals can copy the hardware, but will have a tough time keeping up with 3D Robotics as it launches new software-driven varieties. Right now, there are 150 different products, including 75 from the community.
“They can’t clone our community,” he said.
The company has two factories and 50 employees now. In addition, 3D Robotics rewards its community contributors with T-shirts, coffee mugs, free travel, free hardware, and — if they contribute enough — equity in the company. All of the drones are under $1,000. Competitors include other open-source DIY communities where the model is similar: charge for hardware, give away the bits.
There’s still a lot to improve before drones become mainstream toys for more consumers, especially those who would never pick up a soldering iron to assemble a product.
“In two years, we have begun disrupting a multimillion-dollar industry with the open-source model,” Anderson said. “We can deliver 90 percent of the performance of military drones at 1 percent of the price.”
Of course, at least so far, the hackers aren’t “weaponizing” the drones.
Filed under: security
Apple sold 26 million iPhones in the third quarter of the year, slightly underperforming analyst estimates that ranged to 30 million, and a record 17 million iPads. However, iPhone sales were significantly higher — 28 percent — than the same quarter last year.
CEO Tim Cook avoided any direct mention of iPhone numbers in the canned press release, instead focusing on iPads — which recently launched in China — and MacBooks.
“We’re thrilled with record sales of 17 million iPads in the June quarter,” Cook said. “We’ve also just updated the entire MacBook line, will release Mountain Lion tomorrow, and will be launching iOS 6 this fall.”
In additional good news, Apple reported that iPad adoption in the enterprise has tripled. And while iPhone numbers were not stellar, their adoption in the enterprise has doubled.
Analysts had predicted that many consumers would be waiting for the long-rumored iPhone5, expected out in fall 2012. Cook referenced that, perhaps, in this quote:
“We are also really looking forward to the amazing new products we’ve got in the pipeline.”
The 26 million iPhones contributed to quarterly revenue of $35 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.8 billion … both slightly up from the quarter a year ago.
Just two days ago, Samsung released sales numbers for a top iPhone competitor, the Android-powered Galaxy S III, which has sold 10 million units in less than two months. But Android phones in general, powered by Apple competitor Google’s open source software, are powering more than 50 percent of smartphones in the U.S. and Europe.
This is a breaking story, refresh for updates.
LittleBits is a maker/hacker startup through and through, and it’s just taken a sizable round of venture funding from a few of the bigger names in Silicon Valley.
It’s product is half building block, half circuit board, and it’s intended both as a toy for kids and as a prototyping tool for hardware hackers. The “bits” each have a distinct function, whether it’s a blinking LED, an eight-bit beep, or a functional button; they snap together with magnets to make larger, interactive electronics projects.
LittleBits products are relatively affordable ($89 for a starter kit), and they don’t require a background in electronics, engineering, or computer science.
The funding, a $3.65 million round, is littleBits’ first institutional money; it was led by True Ventures with participation from Khosla Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and Lerer Ventures.
As part of today’s announcement, littleBits also revealed it is working with supply chain management company PCH International to put littleBits products into mass production starting in August 2012.
Here’s a video showing littleBits in action:
“We spend more than seven hours with technological devices every day, yet most of us don’t even know how they work,” said littleBits founder and MIT Media Lab alum Ayah Bdeir in a statement today.
“LittleBits aims to break the boundary between the things we consume and the things we make, and make everyone into an inventor. We want littleBits to be an affordable educational tool that is used in schools everywhere, and our new funding and new relationship with PCH means that we can now expand our team of super stars and reach even more people around the world.”
LittleBits received its first funding in the fall of 2011 from a small group of angel investors, including Joi Ito.
“Open source software lowered the costs of innovation for software and Internet services and pushed it from big companies to startups,” said Ito in a release today. “The same thing is now happening in hardware, and littleBits is one of the companies leading the way.”
Prior to the seed round from Ito et al., littleBits’ founding team bootstrapped the product development for three and a half years. The startup is based in Manhattan.
Twitter is opening its doors to open-source hackers for a few hours next Thursday night.
The OSS-themed open house will bring some of the brightest software engineers and developers to Twitter’s fancy new Art Deco headquarters for the “Twitter Runtime Systems Summit: Open Source Edition.”
Topics discussed will include Zipkin, the company’s open-source, homebrewed distributed tracing system; Twemcache, Twitter’s tweaked memcached fork; and how the microblogging service is using Apache Mesos, a platform for resource isolation and sharing for distributed applications and frameworks.
Speakers will include Twitter runtime engineer Vinod Kone, onetime Hadoop/Cassandra contributor Johan Oskarsson, Apache Hive contributor Franklin Hu, Twitter cache team lead Manju Rajashekhar, cache team member Yao Yue, and Berkeley compsci PhD candidate Benjamin Hindman.
Of course, this is one very clever way of widening Twitter’s pool of software developer job applicants. These poor, helpless neckbeards* are being lured into Twitter’s gingerbread house with promises of open-source software, only to be polled on the Eventbrite page about their interest in a job at Twitter.
FOSS itself is, for many of the cleverer and hotter startups in the area, one big HR recruitment ploy. Devs love working with it, working on it, and contributing to it. And when we call it a “ploy,” we only mean it’s a ploy in the most jovial sense. In an open-source, open-house recruitment gambit, everyone wins, including devs, recruiters, and even the end users whose online lives depend on open-source software. And in an extremely, ridiculously competitive hiring environment, it’s actually a pretty good way to cast a dragnet for the kinds of devs you’re seeking.
The event will take place Thursday, July 26 and will begin at 6:30 p.m. You’ll need to book a free ticket on Eventbrite (linked above), but they’re going fast.
*Note: The term “neckbeard” is not used with any kind of derision. The author of this post would be a full-on neckbeard if she possessed the necessary Y-chromosomes to do so.
Image courtesy of olly, Shutterstock
Filed under: dev
Just as the ArduSat project allows members of the general public to have a go at controlling a satellite, our most recent spotting is exploring a similar concept. OpenROV is an open-source electronics kit that aims to offer an affordable robot suitable for sea and ocean exploration as well as for educational purposes.
Based in San Francisco, Eric Stackpole gathered together a team to develop a robot that they could easily build to explore a nearby cave. Throughout the building process, the idea eventually grew into the OpenROV kit, which users can either build themselves or have pre-made. Currently awaiting funding from a successful Kickstarter campaign, the team has produced a prototype of the robot, which is 30cm x 20cm x 15cm and features a HD webcam, three motors for propulsion and depth capabilities of up to 100 metres. The device is powered using eight standard C batteries and is controlled through a laptop with a wireless connection — using the keyboard — although the team has plans to introduce a games console-style USB controller.
The developers have specifically used off-the-shelf components and open source software in order to build a community around the device, believing that it could be used in multiple capacities – from pollution monitoring in streams to species identification in remote locations. The OpenROV kit can be pre-ordered through Kickstarter until August 1 – a pledge of USD 775 will gain backers the full kit, unassembled, while a pre-built robot costs USD 1,200. According to the team, the device takes around two days to assemble.
From open source space exploration to underwater research — which other remote locations can developers delve into next?
Some web hosting companies specialize in delivering services dedicated to very specific types of software. WordPress is one example of popular open source software that a hosting company may feature. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this type of hosting.
Some of the advantages include:
- Expertise in the software you want to use. The company knows WordPress well because that is all it does. This means, at least in theory, that you will get good support if you have any problems with the software.
- Guaranteed compatibility. Since it is their only product, the host will make sure WordPress runs well and installs without any problems. As such, you will never have to worry about compatibility issues.
- Additional tools. Presumably, a host dedicated to WordPress will also provide useful tools and plugins to enhance the experience, as that is the only way the host can have a real edge over competition.
Some of the disadvantages are:
- Limited exclusively to WordPress. Yes, this advantage can also be a disadvantage. If you ever want to switch to another content management system or blogging platform, you will have to look for a new host. If you ever want any other type of software installed, it may or may not be allowed by your host.
- Narrow support. This host may be good at providing support for WordPress-specific issues, but anything beyond that, even if they allow it, will likely not be supported.
- Not unique. While exclusivity might sound like a plus, it really may not present any real advantages over a host that offers the same features in addition to support for other software. A good host that can install WordPress and many other web applications may give you more for your money.
Hosts that specialize in WordPress hosting may know some of the caching and content delivery tricks that less-experienced hosts may not have encountered. The true advantages, however, pretty much stop there.
In the end, it is a better idea to search for a host based on standard criteria, such as the quality of service, customer support, and technology. Many will offer the same features as WordPress-exclusive hosts while also offering so much more.
This post was first published on the WebHostingBuzz blog on June 30, 2012, as What are the benefits of using a web host that is dedicated to WordPress hosting?
WebHostingBuzz offers a wide range of hosting services – web hosting, business web hosting, reseller hosting, virtual private servers and dedicated servers – as well as specialized services such as WordPress, Joomla, Magento and Drupal hosting plus e-commerce hosting. The company says it has over 30,000 customers worldwide, in over 200 countries, hosting more than 100,000 websites at datacentres in the US and in The Netherlands. Check out what they offer: US | Europe
WebHostingBuzz is a sponsor of NevilleHobson.com (which runs on WordPress).
When I first came across open source software I was amazed. I could hardly believe that good quality software could be made available for a minimal cost. Sure there could be issues with support and maintenance from time to time, but the flexibility and pure value for money equation was hard to beat.
My first real experience with open source was about 15 years ago implementing Norwegian CMS developers ezPublish. Not only was their content management system way ahead of most of the commercially available providers, it was built in a way that was collaborative and had a strong developer community around their various solutions. And – almost intuitively – they had built in community / social networking features which many other CMS platforms still struggle to deliver.
As I put the business case together, I remember laughing as I entered a software license line item. I knew it would generate questions – and sure enough I was called in to speak with the CFO. “Did I make a mistake in my costing?” I assured him that the figures were correct – but that there were trade-offs that came with open source.
Two years down the track, the software was still powering our corporate website and had transformed the way that we thought about the web, our customers and the distribution of our corporate information.
These days it seems that open source is a corporate norm – with 98% of enterprises using open source software in some form. As the folks from Source Ninja point out, it’s not just about lower acquisition costs – flexibility and abundance of code are vital elements when it comes to choosing open source software for business.
But the question for you is … does this ring true? Are you using open source in your business? Why?
A dozen years ago, when I went from techno-dilettante to technophile, one of my living heroes was Jon “maddog” Hall, the 61-year-old writer for Linux Magazine and an early proponent for free and open source software. Today Jon came out as homosexual in honor of Alan Turing’s 100th birthday. His post on the Linux Magazine website is a stirring piece of writing by a man who has finally decided to stop hiding.
Hall is the executive director of Linux International, a non-profit group dedicated to spreading FOSS. His sexual orientation is none of our business yet, just as he has dedicated his life to the expansion of free software, he is now standing up for the expansion of freedom itself. He did a noble thing – I don’t say brave simply because his act shouldn’t be cause for scorn or fear – and his efforts on all fronts are making the tech community stronger, smarter, and more connected.
“Facebook’s Folly” — sounds like a mid-life-crisis-type watercraft, doesn’t it? But it’s actually a huge bundle of C++ utilities focused on speed, ease of use, and interoperability with other C++ libraries you already use.
The collection of reusable C++ library artifacts was developed in-house at Facebook to meet the needs of Facebook’s engineers. As they have done in the past with other open-source projects like Cassandra, HipHop, and Thrift, Facebook’s developers have now placed Folly into the realm of open-source software.
“The development of [Folly] was fueled by the desire to create complementary utilities that allowed us to move fast and not reinvent any wheels,” a Facebooker told VentureBeat last night in an email. “We worked to make this library as fast and easy-to-use as possible.”
The rep noted that Folly is obviously going to be useful for developers of large-scale, distributed apps with significant performance challenges. But he said the library is also “of general utility” for other types of C++-using developers, as well.
“Folly also contains state-of-the-art work-alikes for two common C++ standard library utilities (std::string and std::vector), which may be useful for anyone who does not have access or a license to a quality C++ standard library, or who might want to use those classes in an embedded setting where they are avoiding most of the rest of the standard library for code size reasons,” he said.
Also, because it breaks dependencies on Facebook’s internal code, Folly will allow Facebook to open-source even more of its homebrewed software — an exciting prospect, given the caliber of engineer the company hires.
The company announced the library today during the C++ conference at its Menlo Park headquarters.
“This is code that runs on thousands of servers doing work on behalf of 900 million users every day,” wrote Facebook software engineer Jordan DeLong today on the company blog. “The over-arching theme for all of the components is high performance at scale.”
DeLong said that Folly was built for comfort as well as speed, meaning it’s easier to use and faster to work with than other alternatives. He also said Folly plays well with others (other C++ libraries of quality, that is). “We have a low tolerance for “Not Invented Here” syndrome,” he said.
You can check out Folly for yourself on Facebook’s Gitub page.
Top image courtesy of Gemenacom, Shutterstock