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Business Week: Software Hell

Nov 30, 1999, 17:29 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Neil Gross, Marcia Stepanek, John Carey, Otis Port)

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"Glitches cost billions of dollars and jeopardize human lives. How can we kill the bugs?

June 10 of this year is a day the software industry would love to forget. Auction site eBay (EBAY) suffered a 22-hour system crash--the longest, but not last, in a series of crippling software-related outages. The magnitude of the crash... stoked concerns across the computer industry that software, in its current form, may not be a match for the voracious demands of the information economy."

"In this [software hell], there are glimmers of hope. A movement called 'open source' draws programmers together around the globe to continuously debug major programs. The Internet provides a platform for such collaboration and an instant feedback channel when things go wrong."

"Because buggy software is a global headache, engineers around the world are mounting coordinated efforts to find remedies. And some of the results show promise. Many programmers are encouraged by the successes of the 'open-source' movement--a sprawling, global confederation of software developers whose crowning achievement is the popular Linux operating system. With thousands of programmers pooling their skills to build and test such programs, bugs are discovered early 'and the fixes are obvious to somebody,' says open-source visionary Eric Raymond. 'Given enough eyeballs,' he contends, 'all bugs are shallow.' "

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