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Headlines Published on 20 April 2007

INFORMATION SOCIETY
Title EU-funded project seeks ‘quality seal’ for open source software

The use of open source software is clearly on the rise. The many advantages it holds over proprietary software, such as its flexibility and adaptability, not to mention cost, have drawn many champions from both the public and private sectors, though it is not without its drawbacks. Reliability and deployment issues are only a few examples where improvement is needed before open source projects can make the crossover to wider mainstream acceptance. The EU-funded QualOSS project seeks to address such issues by developing a ‘seal of quality’ for open source software, boosting the competitiveness of the European software market in the process. The project recently completed its first phase.

Once the right fit is found, open source software holds the answer to many computing headaches. © Matt+
Once the right fit is found, open source software holds the answer to many computing headaches.
The QualOSS project takes a unique approach to the evaluation of open source software by synthesising already available resources, such as source code and documentation, as well as data about the developer community supporting the software products. Through a comprehensive survey of this information, the project’s aim is to successfully gauge open source software’s evolvability and robustness, and to develop an automated tool to help others do so in the future as well. In computer engineering parlance, ‘robustness’ refers to an operating system’s ability to run even when memory and storage space is low, and ‘evolvability’ refers to the ability to make use of new soft- and hardware.

Through the development of such a tool, researchers expect to be able to help industry make informed decisions when deciding what type of software to use for their core business, allowing them to quantitatively, objectively and rapidly assess the quality of open source software.

Several assessment tools exist currently, however, they often require a significant investment in human resources where someone trolls through online repositories to collect data and manually score the project according to different quality criteria. If successful, the €3 million QualOSS project with allow organisations to rate open source projects automatically.

Dr Jürgen Münch, division manager for quality management at Fraunhofer IESE, one of eight consortium members from Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Spain, stressed how, as an independent expert on professional software quality management and software testing, his institution will be able to help businesses grow in the future. “The strategic importance of Open Source software is increasing in many companies and administrations,” he said. “Based on lessons learned in the context of our collaboration in QualOSS, we can provide companies with even more systematic support in the selection of Open Source software.”

Europe has long been recognised as being at the forefront of the open source movement. A recent study conducted by FLOSSWorld, another EU-funded project, reports that 70% of all open source software is developed in Europe, and QualOSS will only contribute the Europe’s pre-eminence in the field.







More information:

  • QualOSS homepage
  • FLOSSWorld home page
  • EU open source actions on Europa







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