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InformationWeek: What You're Probably Overlooking About Open Source

May 24, 2003, 07:00 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Sean J. Ammirati)


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When I hear people discussing open-source software, they almost always focus on cost advantages. Sometimes they talk about the quality of open source versus more commercial options. But even this is too narrow a view of open source. Another important advantage of the open-source model is the speed of the release cycles, which may be even more important as the information technology industry moves toward real-time business.

Most commercial software companies take years to release major new versions and weeks or even months to release substantive patches. For contrast, in Eric Raymond's classic 'The Cathedral and The Bazaar,' he describes the Linux kernel being released 'more than once a day' early in development. This was early in Linux's evolution and many of these were simply small fixes and modifications, but even as Linux has matured as an operating system, it isn't unusual to see stable kernels (the even part of the series--1.2.x, 2.0.x, 2.2.x, etc.) released at least every month. To see a list of the recent Linux kernel releases, visit www.kernel.org. In this respect, Linux is fairly representative of most substantial open-source projects..."

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