Linux and Open Source software is growing and gaining more and more recognition these days. Most folk who work in the technical sector have at least heard of open source software, even if they haven't used it. But with more and more visibility, open source projects get more and more FUD from detractors. One of the most commonly heard sayings with regard to OSS is, "well, you get what you paid for!" followed by, "If you want to use something that's free, how can you expect it to be anywhere near as good as one of the paid products?"

Quite honestly, that's the biggest bunch of baloney. In some cases, the software is not yet ready to be used, but because of the open source mantra of "release early, release often," most projects put releases out as soon as possible for others to look and and hopefully turn to helping the project. When dealing with mature applications, it is almost never the case. I've always maintained that open source code is better than proprietary code, though I've never been able to prove it. Now, at long last, a study has confirmed what I have always said: there are less bugs in open source applications than in closed source proprietary applications.

In 2006 Coverity and the US Department of Defense launched the Coverity Scan project, an in depth review of open source code to determine how buggy it is. The latest report, compiled from 2011, shows that open source software still has fewer bugs than proprietary software.

The Coverity Scan report found that in an average proprietary application there were 0.64 bugs per 1000 lines of code, whereas in an average open source project there were 0.45 bugs per 1000 lines of code. Coverity found that the larger the codebase, the more bugs/1000 lines there were, but this is fairly understandable. For instance, the Linux kernel, which has almost 7 million lines of code has 0.62 bugs per 1000 lines of code. However, this is still better than the average proprietary application.

Other popular open source projects that were scored are PHP (version 5.3 has 0.20 bugs per 1000 lines) and PostgreSQL (version 9.1 has 0.21 bugs per 1000 lines), and both were well below the average score of proprietary software.

So, do you really get what you paid for? No, not really... you get so much more.


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