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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Past Skirmishes

The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.

Mark Twain

Researchers have been studying the quality attributes of operating system code for more than two decades [Henry and Kafura 1981], [Yu et al. 2004]. Particularly close to the work you’re reading here are comparative studies of open source operating systems [Yu et al. 2006], [Izurieta and Bieman 2006], and studies comparing open and closed source systems [Stamelos et al. 2002], [Paulson et al. 2004], [Samoladas et al. 2004].

A comparison of maintainability attributes between the Linux and various Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) operating systems found that Linux contained more instances of module communication through global variables (known as common coupling) than the BSD variants. The results I report here corroborate this finding for file-scoped identifiers, but not for global identifiers (see Figure 15-11). Furthermore, an evaluation of growth dynamics of the FreeBSD and Linux operating systems found that both grow at a linear rate, and that claims of open source systems growing at a faster rate than commercial systems are unfounded [Izurieta and Bieman 2006].

A study by Paulson and his colleagues [Paulson et al. 2004] compares evolutionary patterns between three open source projects (Linux, GCC, and Apache) and three non-disclosed commercial ones. They found a faster rate of bug fixing and feature addition in the open source projects, which is something we would expect for ...

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