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Nature: Openness Makes Software Better Sooner

Jun 27, 2003, 22:00 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Philip Ball)

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"Computer software develops more effectively when its code is freely accessible to all, UK researchers have calculated.

"This will come as no surprise to the legions of supporters of open-access software, such as the operating systems and tools the Linux and Apache projects distribute. To them, the superiority of freely available code is an article of faith--as much an ideological position as a technological decision.

"The theoretical model of software debugging devised by Damien Challet and Yann Le Du of the University of Oxford has some sobering messages for companies who prefer to keep their software proprietary. 'Closed-source' software, finessed by staff hired to work on information that users send in, requires higher-quality programmers and more users to attain the same level of perfection as open-source software in a comparable time..."

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