Eric Lease Morgan wrote:
> What qualities and characteristics make for a "good" piece of open source software? And once that question is answered, then what pieces of library-related open source software can be considered "best"?
> I do not believe there is any single, most important characteristic of open source software that qualifies it to be denoted as "best". Instead, a number of characteristics need to be considered. For example, a program might do one thing and do it well, but if it is bear to install then that counts against it. Similarly, some software might work wonders but it is built on a proprietary infrastructure such as a closed source compiler. Can that software really be considered "open"?
> For my own education and cogitation, I have begun to list questions to help me address what I think is the "best" library-related open source software.  Your comments would be greatly appreciated. I have listed the questions here in (more or less) personal priority order:
> * Does the software work as advertised?
> * To what degree is the software supported?
> * Is the documentation thorough?
> * What are the licence terms?
> * To what degree is the software easy to install?
> * To what degree is the software implemented
> using the "standard" LAMP stack?
> * Is the distribution in question an
> application/system or a library/module?
> * To what degree does the software satisfy some
> sort of real library need?
> What sorts of things have I left out? Is there anything here that can be measurable or is everything left to subjective judgement? Just as importantly, can we as a community answer these questions in light of distributions to come up with the "best" of class?
OSS Watch, the open source software advisory service for UK higher
education has some pointers to existing frameworks for evaluating open
source software (see
<http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/resources/strategists.xml> and then
following links to e.g. Business Readiness Rating
<http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/resources/strategists.xml>). I suspect the
baseline requirements for software evaluation have already been defined.
As another correspondent points out, the list is more likely to be
interested in the anything specific about library-related open source
software (standards-based, of course, would apply to both open source
and proprietary software).
Dr Michael Fraser
Head of Infrastructure Systems and Services
Oxford University Computing Services
13 Banbury Road
Oxford OX2 6NN
Tel: 01865 283 343
Fax: 01865 273 275