Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Is OpenOffice really bugged?

Andrew Brown, The Guardian

The OpenOffice project vividly illustrates the limitations of open source as a way of producing software.

Of all the myths that have grown up around open source software, perhaps the most pervasive is Eric Raymond’s aphorism that “Many eyes make bugs shallow”, suggesting that if lots of people can view a program’s source code, they will find and fix its errors more quickly than commercial products whose code is jealously guarded. The only problem with this is that it’s not true - certainly not in one of the flagship projects of open source, ‘OpenOffice’.

This project is most often quoted as the threat to Microsoft's cash-generating Office suite. The free suite comprises a word processor, spread sheet and presentation programme; and graphics, equation editor and database programs if you want.

OpenOffice is the only free and open source product competitive with Office, able to read and write Microsoft format documents almost flawlessly. For Linux desktop users, it is the only way to communicate in the universe of business. But it also vividly demonstrates the limitations of open source as a way of producing software, and its futility as an ideology.

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