Black Duck Software on Open Source Myths

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 09, 2008

We've covered Black Duck Software a few times before. The company offers services for managed and secure implementations of open source software, and maintains a giant knowledgebase of over 170,000 open source projects. It's doing very well even in this economic environment, as seen in the story linked to above. Today, the company sent along a collection of myths about open source, responses for which answer some interesting questions.

Is open source just source code? According to Black Duck: "Source code is actually only 15% of what is released by open source developers. There are four times as many binary files as source files in open source releases." This seems fairly obvious to me. From documentation to scripts and more, open source is much more than source code.

Is open source adoption dominated mostly by application infrastructure? Here Black Duck's software repository turns up an interesting finding that I've known to be true for a long time. Huge open source application infrastructure implementations in enterprises, such as Linux and MySQL, are only a fraction of overall adoption. "The open source world is dominated by components, not fully formed applications," says the report, and there's no doubt about it.

Would a few billion lines of existing open source code be about right? Black Duck's finding is that there are in fact tens of billions of lines of open source code online. This lines up well with data I've seen from the Linux Foundation about the number of lines of code in Linux distros alone.

Is the GPL Version 3 being ignored? Black Duck finds that GPL Version 3, which has only been available since June 2007, is more prevalent than the CPL, Mozilla, MIT and Apache licenses. The company finds that about 70 percent of open source projects use a variant of the GPL license.

Here are a couple of graphics, courtesy of Black Duck, illustrating some of these findings: