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How To Tell Open-Source Winners From Losers

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the sifting-chaff-&-wheat dept.

Programming 218

An anonymous reader writes "There are 139,834 open-source projects under way on SourceForge. IWeek wonders which projects will make lasting contributions, and which will fizzle. Sure, Linux, Apache, and MySQL are winners, but what about OpenVista, FLOSSmole, and Hyperic HQ? What's your list of open-source winners and losers?"

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218 comments

The Losers: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17893694)

People who use it.

Re:The Losers: (4, Funny)

halivar (535827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893872)

Well, seeing as how you're posting on the INTERNET, I'd say this places you solidly in the "loser" category, by your definition.

Enjoy your open-source.

Slashdot style modding (1)

parvenu74 (310712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894846)

Why not establish a slashdot-style moderation system, requiring the mods to be backed by rational explanation and not just "I like language X therefore this is cool."

I go to Sourceforge after I learn about a program (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17893756)

This is backwards, I hear about a program, then I go look for it on Sourceforge. Who has time to sift through 100,000 hobby projects? Let others discover and bring the good ones to light. That is what true open source is all about.

Re:I go to Sourceforge after I learn about a progr (5, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893868)

I'm not sure if you are joking or not, so...

Here is a partial list of successful free software projects not on Sourceforge:

  • Linux
  • Apache
  • Python
  • Ruby (off and on Rails)
  • PostgreSQL
  • Most of GNU
  • *BSD

A better place to look for successful free software projects is http://packages.debian.org/ [debian.org] .

Re:I go to Sourceforge after I learn about a progr (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894032)

Here is a partial list of successful free software projects not on Sourceforge:

No, that's basically it. When it comes to server software, interpreted languages, a couple of RDMSs, browsers, and toolkits, Sourceforge is GREAT!

I was looking for some accounting/bookkeeping software and CRM software on Sourceforge for running my non-IT business and I found it to be incredibly lacking. Most of the projects were in the Alpha stages, if that, and many were just starting up. I need software now. I don't have time to contribute my very rusty programming skills either. So, I had to get a commercial package...that's me.

A friend of mine who runs a blog and a comment site much like this one (political) was using some F/OSS blogging comment posting software. He isn't technical and needed support which was lacking in the F/OSS version of the software he was using. He can't afford to hire a F/OSS developer. So he purchased a commercial application for around $300.00 that meets all of his needs.

Now, as someone who reads Slashdot everyday, I can assure all of you that I mentioned EVERYTHING that you folks are about to mention to me. He wasn't interested. He NEEDED a piece of software that worked and worked now - no Beta, no Alpha - A RELEASED VERSION of software and someone who will fix his problems.

I just committed heresy here on Slashdot and I'm waiting for the wips and chains.

Re:I go to Sourceforge after I learn about a progr (1)

zeenixus (571630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895206)

now, if only there were hundreds, nay thousands of hosting providers out there that offered F/OSS blogs and such ...

F/OSS CRM? you must be joking, or severely google challenged. sugar, vtiger and others I'm sure. you can even SHOP TEH INTARWEBZ for those that offer hosting and support for them.

Re:I go to Sourceforge after I learn about a progr (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894150)

I prefer freshmeat.net. They do have non-OSS stuff but you can search by license type. It keeps you updated, it has download and homepage links for most projects, and people can rate things, the latter of which is the interesting part.

Re:I go to Sourceforge after I learn about a progr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894278)

FM has a few downsides:

- They don't accept OSS packages which only run on non-OSS platforms
- Their interface needs an update... parts are byzantine, other's are way too old.. you can add a "CVSWEB" link, but not anything for SVN or other SCM systems.

That said, I updated a project on FM just yesterday.

Re:I go to Sourceforge after I learn about a progr (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893902)

I go to Sourceforge when i need a kind of program, and use their search facilities to find it. Or use google, with site:sourceforge.net Only if i don't find it there, i look elsewhere.

Re:I go to Sourceforge after I learn about a progr (1)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893930)

Um. Right. So you're telling me you've never thought "Gosh, if only I had a program/code that would do X!" and gone looking for it?

I'll ignore the obvious concern that if nobody went looking for OSS software on sites like SF, people wouldn't hear about great ones as easily.

Re:I go to Sourceforge after I learn about a progr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894054)

Yeah, right. What the world needs is a place that one could ask "I want the best , I don't want to d/l and compile/fix/compile/test/delete a bunch to find some gem." There used to be Tucows for windows, where it was easy to find the best of the many programs. May be the best one could hope for is Oreilly or someone to publish reviews and top 10 lists of OpenSource projects.

the winners are ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17893782)

Those who don't want to reinvent the wheel.

Photo display, like Gallery
Forums , like phpBB

Re:the winners are ... (1)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894544)

phpBB is a good candidate because it's popular, and in that regards is definitely successful. In my opinion it's pretty shoddy software that's difficult to manage, slow, has a poor stock featureset, and is a big flaming target in terms of security (whether the security problems are the fault of the developers or simply the result of its popularity can be argued). Although many years ago I recommended it highly, I stopped about two years ago, especially to my own web hosting customers...there were just too many script-kiddie security problems that required "under the hood" patching which was a problem worsened by the need to install 3rd party patches to provide features that everyone at the time expected (file uploading, for instance).

Version 3 appears to be right around the corner. I'm mildly interested to see if it's caught up to other packages like SMF. (unfortunately SMF isn't GPL, but its license isn't horribly restrictive. The code is better and lighter than phpbb 2.X IMHO as well)

Re:the winners are ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894852)

In my opinion it's pretty shoddy software that's difficult to manage, slow, has a poor stock featureset, and is a big flaming target in terms of security (whether the security problems are the fault of the developers or simply the result of its popularity can be argued).
You just described nearly every php-based app. Sure there is some excellent [horde.org] php code out there, but overall it's best to avoid like the plague.

This isn't meant to be a troll, just my observation. Every time I get someone telling me about some "cool" php app a look at it's security list (sql injection exploit after sql inject exploit..) or the code it self (it's rare when I can spend more than 5 minutes reading it without finding a few exploits), I end up running away from it.

It's a real shame, as PHP is actually a nice language. They just make it very easy to write insecure code.

Re:the winners are ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894614)

I'm not so sure I'd call phpBB a winner. Have you ever used it? or worse, dug through the source code?

Hint (1, Insightful)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893784)

If it's an MMORPG that 12 people on the project who've been working on it for about a year, and they've got a small stack of concept art and some story documentation to show for it, it's probably a loser.

OpenVista? (1)

Illbay (700081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893836)

Sheesh. There's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Re:OpenVista? (2, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893950)

And it's actually OpenVistA. Note the trailing upper case.

1. It's from the US.gov
2. It's been around since 2003.

Re:OpenVista? (1)

porkrind (314254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894796)

Heh... "VistA" was around long before Windows Vista was a twinkle in Monkey Boy's eye.

-John Mark
Hyperic Community Outreach

roll the games together (3, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893842)

I've always thought there should be a borg-like game project to roll all the unfinished games into one big ball and work out the common elements into a single game engine, then just farm out the artwork,etc. back to the individual project holders. It could be way easier to generate a lot of interesting games that way.

Re:roll the games together (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894600)

Wouldn't this just make every single game feel and play like every other? Total boredom. I'd like this about as much as I would like 64,000 ugly skins for my favorite media player app.

Re:roll the games together (1)

Jorrit (19549) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894876)

It is not the game engine that defines the feel of art and play of a game. The artwork and the game logic (which isn't part of the game engine but written on top of the game engine) are what makes a game unique. And you can make many unique games with the same game engine. Saying that one game engine makes all games look alike is like saying that all games using Direct3D look alike.

Greetings,

Re:roll the games together (1)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895130)

Will the ball of unfinished games be able to roll through the tubes of the internet?

Re:roll the games together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17895386)

It's been done. It's called Duke Nukem Forever.

GNAA has Open Sores (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17893870)

Hope it does not get infected by a virus

Anything I can benefit from is a "winner"... (4, Insightful)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893874)

I don't care so much if a program is popular. I'm more interested in whether or not a program is actually USEFUL to me. :-) Some of the open source stuff I love is quite unpopular, but I don't care because it does what I want in the way I want it done.

That's one of the beauties of open source -- "winning" doesn't always matter.

Re:Anything I can benefit from is a "winner"... (1)

El Nigromante (1059332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894238)

I agree with this one.

In fact, many winners have grown based on the way opened by forgotten losers.

Seconded. Numbers != success (2, Insightful)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894298)

We have an open source project that models brain regions [neurojet.net] , that is extremely unlikely to ever be widely used by a general audience. However, if it were used by 25% of neuroscientists who run brain simulations, I'm sure we'd consider it successful.

Re:Seconded. Numbers != success (2, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895020)

That is just the thing. A 25% market share of your target audience is good. The thing is most OSS apps don't have even a 10% market share.

Another thing that I see is FLOSS apps that are in perpetual beta, that never make it to 1.0. If something has been around for 3 or 5 years, one would think it would be v1.0. Instead, what we see is v0.93.4223587234856852837501613. At some point, it has to be finished.

Re:Seconded. Numbers != success (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895636)

I agree, though your license may be a little restrictive for some, and I'd put the program very firmly in the category of "not just below the horizon but also below ground". I don't care what Kevin Costner might say on the matter, you've got to let people know you've built it before they will give a damn. Although absolute numbers are inconsequential - and even the relative numbers are really not significant - if it's just right for those who do use it, it is just as important to consider those who WILL need it but who don't yet know the software even exists.

A project is not a success or a failure according to who do NOT use it. That is like arguing that English is a failure because 99.99% of lifeforms in the galaxy do not speak it. Well, why should they? Other than to get a spot on Star Trek, that is. The question is not one of who uses it, but who knows about it. Is the project on Freshmeat? (Answer: No, I looked.) Has it been mentioned on any medical websites? (Answer: Not obviously, though there was a brief mention from Rice University.) The only Wikipedia mention I could find was a single screenshot.

This doesn't make the project bad, but it does mean that it can't possibly reach its potential - in audience, in feedback, in actual day-to-day application, etc. Sure, you posted a link on Slashdot, which is excellent and is bound to get visitors to the site at the very least. However, I doubt rampaging hordes of neurologists visit here, which means although the numbers may be up, they're the wrong numbers. They're not the droids you are looking for.

Re:Anything I can benefit from is a "winner"... (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894322)

You are thinking in terms of getting a program and using it yourself, for your own setup. If you are working in a larger business environment this may not hold useful.

Leaving out any of the stupid Political how Bosses are stupid and stuff here are some facts why you should be more interested in more Successful projects.

Training Costs: Training costs are more then paying an expert to tell the people how to use the product during a meeting. It is the downtime people suffer from the learning curve on the product. Say it is an easy to use App and it takes a company of 100 employees only 15 Minutes to learn and get useful. Assuming an average wage of $15.00 an hour That is about $300 (The actual multiplication is more but we can assume that they can make up some of the loss time that day) So for a Very Simple application that is very easy to use we have spent enough money to Pay a $15.00 hour employee for 1/2 a week. As a program grows in complexity the numbers a higher, and if the CEO needs to use this app it can get expensive quickly. If you use a more popular application there are chances that there will be more people who already know the product and less training expenses.

Dynamic Needs: Companies needs are rarely static, and they are often the same changes that happen with other companies. Using a more Active and Popular tool increases the chances that the product will keep up with the needs.

Security: One lonely programmer checking for security or a large team checking and fixing security. Which do you prefer.

Finding the Product: If you are trying to find a product that meets your needs you will normally find the more popular product first then then other guys later. So it comes up with how much time/money are you willing to spend to find that needle in the haystack that will work perfectly with you. Or the more popular app is good enough and will get the job done.

Support: If there is a problem what is the base you can turn to. If the project is too unpopular then the only guy you can contact is the developer, and if he is tired explaining the products he just may not talk to you. For more popular products there is a community you can turn to get support on your problems.

Now for some of the PHB problems.

Unknown Name: MySQL, Linux, Apache They get some coverage in the non-tech rags. If it is to remote then the Boss will not want to try it because they haven't heard from anyone else professionally on how well it works or not. As well articles stating its success if the project fails.

What if the project stops: What if the project just stops. Who will keep the product alive. Trusting a Company Critical Application so a program that may day doesn't sound good to me.

If this doesn't work who to blame: if the S**T hits the fan fingers will be pointed and if the project isn't popular enough it will go under the radar and toward the person who implemented it or approved the implementation. Saying it is Linux or Microsoft fault will ease the blame towards the individuals because the product has been used sucessfuly elsewhere. But if was GNUseless then You will get the blame.

Sure for personal use you can use whatever application you like. I myself for text editing I prefer JED not as much Vi or Emacs. As well as some other less used tools. But if I need to implement on a company bases even for a very small company going with larger names actually does make it easier to get it approved and implemented.

Re:Anything I can benefit from is a "winner"... (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894718)

You are thinking in terms of getting a program and using it yourself, for your own setup. If you are working in a larger business environment this may not hold useful.

Just to clarify: I'm also thinking in terms of getting a program, using it myself, and making general recommendations to others in a corporate environment where I don't have root access and the sysadmins will only install "company approved" software, meaning I'm on my own to find things not on the relatively short Approved List.

Many of your points simply don't apply to me, since I don't have to "sell" the software I use to some fictional set of Powers That Be. I install it, I use it in my own context on the various DEV machines on the LAN, and the risks that come with the usage are all mine.

Other programmers who follow my recommendations may or may not assume the same risk, as I have taken it upon myself to provide direct local support for some of the stuff for which I have soutce code. It varies with each program and with each person, though.

Re:Anything I can benefit from is a "winner"... (3, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894880)

Several comments.

OOSS applications are not always more secure than closed source programs. I think a lot of this depends on the type of application as well as the popularity of the application. An OSS program that isn't very popular will have few developers working on it. The greater security availabel in Linux is only present because of the number of people reviewing the source; with a small program maybe there's only a few people developing it. One thing is nice however.. a lot of the less popular applications have less features than their closed source counterparts and thus have less attack vectors.

What if the project stops: What if the project just stops. Who will keep the product alive. Trusting a Company Critical Application so a program that may day doesn't sound good to me.

This is a toss up. With closed source, the reverse is true also. What if the company stops producing, developing or supporting your Company Critical Application(R)? You have no options except to migrate to another solution. You could ask the copyright holder if you can have the source, but most companies will decline citing (insert one: IP concern, security, diluted financial value of the product, etc). If a company has the technical resources and had been relying on an OSS solution, at least they have the source code as a clutch to get them through until a migration is convenient. If it turns out that the program is easily extensible, they may even keep an internal fork that they can continue to develop without the hassle of keeping their changes open sourced.

For a small business, this is an absolute non-option. They don't have the resources and losing a primary application on which your business is founded can be a business killer. OSS has it's advantages for small business however, including reduced cost over time. Like anything, OSS isn't right for everyone. Any successful business owner would complete a risk-tolerance assesment to determine what solution has acceptable features, security risk, cost(initial and over time).

Sadly, many times the instability and uncertainty of OSS applications' future makes small businesses choose closed source. It's funny though that for the very reason they choose closed source applications, they should choose open source: You never know when Company X will discontinue Product Y and leave you stranded. I would bet often times this is based on inaccurate and incomplete information. How do you tell the small businesses though that they don't need to pay the Redmond rent to be successful?

Jakarta (3, Interesting)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893878)

In the Java world, anything released by the Apache Jakarta project is usally a winner.

Re:Jakarta (1)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894434)

While there *are* a large proportion of successful projects in large open source incubator sites like the Apache Jakarta project or Tigris and the like, I doubt merely arranging for having a piece of software adopted under the Apache Jakarta umbrella is a guarantee that it'll be an open source smash hit. It's not unusual for private companies to dump their old projects as open source, particularly on a big incubator, hoping that they'll take off by themselves. It doesn't always happen. Just count the number of XML binding frameworks on the Jakarta site, for instance. I have no hard numbers, but I'll bet that half this stuff barely gets used.

For every Velocity and Subversion out there, there's a ton of projects out there that are sadly abandoned or ignored, either because they never made the cut in the first place, they have critical flaws which prevent them from being adopted, or they're made obsolete. What happened to Scarab, for instance? Even now, a lot of people I know use Bugzilla (free, crappy, but works), and JIRA (non-free but excellent if you have the budget for a license).

Having a browse through these incubator sites makes for interesting archaeology though. A current Java server-side developer might wince when looking through some of the stuff that's still up there, especially when other people have come up with better ways of doing things, e.g. Spring and WebWork than the older and clunkier projects that occasionally still find their homes on these sites.

Having a bunch of old and abandoned projects doesn't really matter for these guys; their large number of big hits more than makes up for the also-rans.

Re:Jakarta (0, Offtopic)

cibyr (898667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894784)

*shudders*

I had an experience with Java Server Faces a few weeks ago. As much as it seems like a cool idea, sometimes objects are *not* the answer. The problem I had to solve would have been much easier with a few lines of perl, instead of a bunch of java beans with a zillion properties and (IMHO) a huge dirty hack to get around the (completely artificial) limitation that you can't pass arguments to methods you call from a page.

How to tell? (4, Insightful)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17893910)

1. Does it have a good plan and some goals
2. Is it something someone needs? (Edison and the electric voting machine...)
3. Can it be to kept current and out of obsoletion with reasonable effort?

Other than that, only time will tell.

Easy! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17893998)

Winners:

root@localhost>./configure %% make && make install
root@localhost>
(program/library/whatever works)

Losers:

root@localhost>./configure %% make && make install
error: unable to find . You need to install library.
root@localhost>rm -rf ./*
root@localhost>

Turning loosers into winners? (1)

the_arrow (171557) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894042)

From TFA:

Corporate developers and other IT professionals must get better at divining the winners and ignoring the losers. The wrong picks can lead companies down a rat hole of support problems and obsolete software.
Maybe so, but some projects may turn out to be loosers just because they didn't get picked up by some company wanting to use it.

Look at the Hype (1, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894126)

It's the same as with everything: you can't tell which products are going to win by looking at the projects. Look at the hype, instead. If the media are abuzz with the product, it's probably a winner. If a product can't seem to capture the media attention, even after reaching a usable state, it will not be more than a fringe player. If the project site, documentation, code, etc. is so messy you can't make sense of it, the product will probably fail.

Disclaimer: this is just my rule of thumb. There's no silver bullet. If I _really_ knew how to predict these things, I'd be a millionaire (and not in Romanian Lei).

Re:Look at the Hype (2, Interesting)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894792)

And if the project "team" is one individual who hasn't posted anything new in six months...

Proably could eliminate 70-80% of the projects on SF with this one criteria.

Re:Look at the Hype (1)

Gerald (9696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895080)

Wireshark [wireshark.org] (formerly Ethereal) has been pretty popular despite getting very little coverage from the industry trade press.

SourceForge isn't the only show in town... (1)

jklappenbach (824031) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894136)

While projects like Azureus, Gimp, and countless others have originated or flourished in some form on SourceForge, far more telling cases for the power of open source are the repositories like the Apache Software Foundation [apache.org] . While most Apache projects are based on Java, it's impact on the open source community (and software in general) can't be overstated.

That aside, it's really hard to classify open source projects from the perspective of applications. Many of the projects are utilities, satisfying a narrow solution like reporting, connectivity, adaptation, etc. These types of releases will never see broad interest from end users, but will instead find their niche within the development community.

But, if the real focus is what open source has to offer the end user, SourceForge provides ranking for each of the projects. The higher the rank, the more activity the project has enjoyed, the more downloads that have been made. It's a fairly reliable indicator on the success of the project.

-jjk

Same rules as real life.. (2, Insightful)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894148)

The same rules apply to open source as they do in real life.. it's not about quality necessarily. To quote Sean Connery in The Rock,

Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.
The prom queen, in this case, is your PC.

benevolent dictators (3, Insightful)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894168)

FTFA:

MySQL, Linux, and other successful open source projects all have this in common: a Linus Torvalds sort of figure, a benevolent dictator with the humility to see the value in other people's work. [...] At Samba, founded in 1992 to provide file and print capabilities across Windows, Unix, and Linux, it's the diplomatic yet decisive Jeremy Allison.

I'd add that a good characteristic is that these 'benevolent dictators' have a good habit of speaking out on matters of importance. For LT, it is about GPL v3 - and although I may disagree with his conclusions [slashdot.org] , the debate is valuable. With JRA it was taking a principled stand against a deal that he saw as damaging the community, resiging [slashdot.org] in protest [slashdot.org] from Novell (and was/is now being snapped up by Google?).

A project is more likely to succeed if they have an open-minded, forward thinking leader who doesn't shirk the big issues. Of course, picking battles is important - you probably won't hear ESR talking about maintaining biodiversity in freshwater lakes, or RMS warn people about the rapid spread of Lyme Disease any time soon. Still, being able to spot potential external troubles can be just as important as spotting potential internal ones.

Its Simple (0, Troll)

Brad_sk (919670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894182)

Winners: Handful like Firefox, MySql and Apache Losers: Everyone else including Linux Just see how many folks are using each product...

One that does not win or Lose ... (1)

jsnipy (913480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894186)

This is a project that was once was a commerically held game, whose development company went out of business, but the code was still being held by Edios (Pumpkin Studio's pimp in this case). It's a gret RTS, despite its age. I say winner because its good to see this project saved and its code made availble. I also say lose because it problly won't grow anymore than it has. Winner: http://sourceforge.net/projects/warzone2100/ [sourceforge.net]

JMRI! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894252)

JMRI is a winner.
I use it every day.

It's got a funky beat and I can dance to it (1)

porkrind (314254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894302)

Tony Wasserman says you can put a numeric value on an open source project. As an intellectual, I respect him a great deal, but I'm not so sure that things like the Business Readiness Rating will be that beneficial. It seems highly variable and likely to change over time - to say nothing about how every customer's needs differ greatly.

-John Mark
Hyperic Community Outreach

Loser projects... (1)

ZwJGR (1014973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894324)

Bob'sFreeWidgetZ for Some-System-Nobody-Has-Ever-Heard-Of, version 0.0.1.2.5½ alpha, which hasn't been updated, except for a lengthened Todo list, for over a year, and has one part-time developer, is a perfect example of a 'Loser' OSS Project.
There are plenty of these on Sourceforge.

Cartes du Ceil & Blender = winners, IMO (1)

nani popoki (594111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894382)

Blender is one I use almost daily. Cartes du Ceil is another. (And yes, I've made a 3D model of a telescope.)

When I Submitted this Story... wah wah (1)

porkrind (314254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894388)

I noted that not only did the article call out past winners to provide some context, but he also predicted which of the "new breed" of commercial open source would succeed - MuleSource, Alfresco and Hyperic. That was kind of glossed over in the "winning" submission, but it's really the whole point of the article - using past successes in an attempt to pick future winners.

-John Mark
Hyperic Community Outreach

Ending a project is (was) not that easy. (3, Interesting)

Stefan Fredriksson (196416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894426)

Ok, I confess. I'm one of the guys thats trashing sf.net.

However, when I realized I would not have time to "finish" my small project (I had a working version up there though) I decided to remove the homepage, *and* the

Now, callar me stupid but I did not manage. I looked over and over for a way to delete *my own* project but didn't manage. I looked a couple of days later and I then send an email to sf.net and explained the situation to them. What did I get in response? Nada, zip.

This was maybe 18 months or so ago and maybe it's better now but my long-ago-abandoned program still sits at sf.net taking up space.

Re:Ending a project is (was) not that easy. (3, Informative)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895274)

That is by design. Open source means you give away your sourcecode, now matter how insignificant. There is always a (very) small chance somebody takes over where you left. So the work you did should not be deleted. It is part of the SF experience...

Winners (4, Interesting)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894442)

Aside from the obvious big winners (ie. Firefox/Apache/MySQL/PHP/FreeBSD/Linux) here are some of the lesser-known winners that I like:

Cyberduck - Very clean OSX FTP client
Joomla! - Content Management System
SmoothWall - Router/Firewall Linux distro
VNC - remote desktop
PDFCreator - Great PDF printer for Windows, but really hard to find
VLC - all in one media player for OSX
XMMS - WinAMP-like media player for X11 systems
MythTV - even though it doesn't work for me (yet!)

Some that I think are losers:

Mambo - The project Joomla! forked from when the devs split with the corporation owning the copyright.

OpenDarwin - since Apple seems to be intent on not giving back whatever it doesn't have to.

Blender - just not enough market for another 3D app, which is why the commercial company sold it off to begin with. The nonstandard interface and workflow gets in the way and only enthusiasts really use it (like gimp, but with a much much smaller install base)

Sunbird - the calendar component of Mozilla's offerings... Firefox development has been blasting along, even Thunderbird is doing great, but Sunbird (both the standalone and plugin version) seem to have stagnated... very very unfortunate since the iCal standard is going to explode with the iCal server in OSX Server 10.5 and there are very few Windows clients that utilize it. Mozilla could capture a huge market share here.

PalmOS - once a closed-source winner... soon to be an open-source loser as the Linux-based OS supposedly in development is not adopted. Palm could dominate the market again if they pulled their heads out of their asses (not very likely).

Some of my winners may ultimately be losers. For example, SmoothWall hasn't had a major update in several years, PDFCreator is difficult to find, and would disappear if Adobe included a PDF printer with Acrobat Reader or Microsoft included one in Windows. Likewise, some of my losers could easily become winners if they could pull their acts together.

You can see my bias (as a web developer) but "loser" open source projects seem to just fade away. So I don't think there are many memorable examples as there are of winners. And of course every winner can easily be eclipsed and made a loser if they don't stay on the ball just like closed-source projects.

Re:Winners (1)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894684)

I agree whole-heartedly with PDFCreator. This project has saved me a lot of licensing fees for Adobe Acrobat (for Distiller), and is much more user-friendly than the online converters.

Now if only there was an opensource PDF reader for Windows that was as "easy" as Acrobat Reader, but not as utterly crappy. (I'm half hoping that somebody will pop in here and say, "THERE IS!")

Re:Winners (2, Informative)

c41rn (880778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895242)

There is a free Acrobat Reader alternative called "Foxit" [foxitsoftware.com] , but alas, it is not open source. I gave it a try a few months ago and it was snappier than Acrobat Reader but it didn't play nice with Firefox. It looks like it's been updated since then, so YMMV.

Re:Winners (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895684)

Also, while Foxit is faster than Acrobat at loading (though only marginally, if you have the Acrobat SpeedLaunch in your Startup folder like you should), it is much, much slower at rendering complex layouts.

By the way, I agree with Dynedain about PDFCreator too, but I'm not sure why s/he thinks it's hard to find -- pdfcreator.sourceforge.net points you to the right place. I'd agree it's difficult for it to get publicity, though, what with all the zillions of adware equivalents out there.

Re:Winners (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895810)

By the way, I agree with Dynedain about PDFCreator too, but I'm not sure why s/he thinks it's hard to find
What I meant is that if you don't explicitly already know about PDFCreator, and know where to find it, it's very difficult to locate. Sometimes when installing I forget what it's called, and sourceforge's search leaves much to be desired. The biggest problem is that people generally don't even know it's possible to install a PDF printer and instead rely on whatever their applications have support for in terms of exporting stand-alone documents. And on our corporate network, the accounting people have 4 different PDF printers installed as part of different accounting packages. Some of which do not even come close to working on XP64bit. If they could all just be redirected to work with one already-installed virtual printer like PDFCreator, I'd be much much happier.

Re:Winners (1)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894808)

I agree about blender, but what if distros installed it by default as it so often does with the gimp for instance? I think could need a 3d modeler to play around with, and it's not very large when it comes to filesize anyway... dunno what their license agreements say tho.

Re:Winners (1)

Jorrit (19549) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894918)

I think you underestimate the number of people that are using Blender. Recently Blender has been getting a very big increase in popularity (helped partially by the Elephants Dream movie) and Blender is also being used in several professional companies as well. Blender is no longer a small and insignificant project by any means.

Greetings,

Re:Winners (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895046)

Blender - just not enough market for another 3D app, which is why the commercial company sold it off to begin with. The nonstandard interface and workflow
I personally would have to disagree with you on that the interface once yo get used to it is VERY intuitive and quick to use, granted I am by no means a big time 3D artist but I have taken part in a few small competitions and won them using Blender vs Kids who were using Maya, 3DS Max and Cinema 4D. Also the Blender community is very active and fairly large and the Dev team have been putting many new features into the program that it can now hold its own against the large $500 dollar programs. But that is just my opinion and you are more then entitled to yours.

phpBookExchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894464)

Currently used by over 600 students at plnubooks.com to directly exchange their used textbooks and save a few bucks in the process.

http://bookexchange.sourceforget.net/ [sourceforget.net]

It's my favorite because I wrote it :)

It's not about winning or losing (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894470)

OpenSource will always win on some level. Projects can be assiminated into another projects, it's possible to combine the efforts of multiple similar projects into the "stronger" project. The strong project way have won a battle, but all project won in the end.
The only party that might lose is the end-user, but then again, they would lose much less if they backed a closed source project, because in that case they wouldn't have any possibility to continue the project.

Quick tip... (3, Insightful)

jimhill (7277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894484)

If a guy is worried about his project being perceived as a "looser", it's a loser.

Every one of them is a winner (1)

sstamps (39313) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894578)

If someone gets something out of any project, be it useful function, useful knowledge, or even simple amusement, then it is a winner. The article is attempting to discern POPULARITY of projects as the criteria of each being a winner/loser. Personally, I don't give a damn about how popular something is. If it is the right tool for the job, and works, it's golden to me.

Even open-source BrainFuck programs are winners as far as I am concerned, because they amuse me. :)

My main set of winners is.... (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894650)

...any of the major projects on the list at opensourcecms.com [opensourcecms.com] for a simple reason: I can look at virtually every major open-source based CMS project out there, see installs, get user community feedback on each of them, and look for more effective implementations all in one place.

I think I have come up with more innovations that I can adapt for use in my company that are based on stuff in these CMS packages than any other single web location I can think of.

phpScheduleIt (1)

Shuntros (1059306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894666)

This rocks; http://sourceforge.net/projects/phpscheduleit [sourceforge.net] I use it at our University helpdesk for loaning out cameras, external HDD's etc, and I also use it as a booking system for a small aircraft owned by our 6-man group. A great example of someone spending hundreds of hours of their own time writing software with huge real-world value, and for absolutely no reward.

Open Source Development HOW-TO (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894702)

  1. Introduction

    As everyone knows, Open Source software is the wave of the future. With the market share of GNU/Linux and *BSD increasing every day, interest in Open Source Software is at an all time high.

    Developing software within the Open Source model benefits everyone. People can take your code, improve it and then release it back to the community. This cycle continues and leads to the creation of far more stable software than the 'Closed Source' shops can ever hope to create.

    So you're itching to create that Doom 3 killer but don't know where to start? Read on!

  2. First Steps

    The most important thing that any Open Source project needs is a Sourceforge page. There are tens of thousands of successful Open Source projects on Sourceforge.Net; the support you receive here will be invaluable.

    OK, so you've registered your Sourceforge.Net project and set the status to '0: Pre-Thinking About It', what's next?

  3. Don't Waste Time!

    Now you need to set up your SourceForge.net homepage. Keep it plain and simple - don't use too many HTML tags, just knock something up in VI. Website editors like FrontPage and DreamWeaver just create bloated eye-candy - you need to get your message to the masses!

  4. Ask For Help

    Since you probably can't program at all you'll need to try and find some people who think they can. If your project is a game you'll probably need an artist too. Ask for help on your new Sourceforge pages. Here is an example to get you started:

    "Hi there! Welcom to my SorceForge page! I am planing to create a Fisrt Person Shooter game for Linux that is going to kick Doom 3's ass! I have loads of awesome ideas, like giant robotic spiders! I need some help thouh as I cant program or draw. If you can program or draw the tekstures please get in touch! K thx bye!"
    Thousands of talented programmers and artists hang out at Sourceforge.net ready to devote their time to projects so you should get a team together in no time!
  5. The A-Team

    So now you have your team together you are ready to change your projects status to '1: Pre-Bickering'. You will need to discuss your ideas with your team mates and see what value they can add to the project. You could use an Instant Messaging program like MSN for this, but since you run Linux you'll have to stick to e-mail.

    Don't forget that YOU are in charge! If your team doesn't like the idea of giant robotic spiders just delete them from the project and move on. Someone else can fill their place and this is the beauty of Open Source development. The code might end up a bit messy and the graphics inconsistant - but it's still 'Free as in Speech'!

  6. Getting Down To It

    Now that you've found a team of right thinking people you're ready to start development. Be prepared for some delays though. Programming is a craft and can take years to learn. Your programmer may be a bit rusty but will probably be writing "hello world" programs after school in no time.

    Closed Source games like Doom 3 use the graphics card to do all the hard stuff anyhow, so your programmer will just have to get the NVidia 'API' and it will be plain sailing! Giant robot spiders, here we come!

  7. The Outcome

    So it's been a few years, you still have no files released or in CVS. Your programmer can't get enough time on the PC because his mother won't let him use it after 8pm. Your artist has run off with a Thai She-Male. Your project is still at '1: Pre-Bickering'...

    Congratulations! You now have a successful Open Source project on Sourceforge.net! Pat yourself on the back, think up another idea and do it all again! See how simple it is?

Losers!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894712)

Everyone who gave honest feedback...some of it negative ...were mod'ed down.

Well...well...well, if you don't LISTEN to your customers, you WILL fail!

F/OSS is lost!!!

It's just for hobbiests and sanctimonious F/OSS zealots who can't stand feedback.

So here's mine: You're doing GREAT! Keep doing what you're doing!

I'll buy commercial ...thank you very much...assholes!

Define "Winner" (2, Insightful)

Hymer (856453) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894740)

...in our reality we can't measure success in kG of gold left by users... installed base may be a way of measuring but how do you get that info (and no, that is not the same as "how many downloads") ?
A winner is simply a project with a satisfied userbase of significant size.
...and no, that doesn't make Windows a success... just ask any Windows user if they would accept a car, TV set or washing machine wich behaved like their Windows and you'll get the answer "You are not serious, are you ?".
--
I left Windows 3 years ago with the intention of returning after one year...

MAME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17894790)

One of the biggest problems with most open source projects on Sourceforge is the lack of decisive leadership. Simply starting a project does not guarantee success, you need to have a vision and see it through, sticking with it for years to come. This of course also requires that the leader has coding skills, so that he or she can make responsible decisions about the direction towards which the code base is taken.

A fine example is MAME [mame.net] , although it's not on Sourceforge (and we can debate until the end of the world whether it fulfills the definition of "Open Source"). It in fact today reached its 10th anniversary counting from the first release. Only with persistent leadership (though the project coordinator has changed a couple of times along the years) and a vision to preserve all storage media -based arcade games in a single program has it been able to survive this long, far longer than any other arcade game emulator. This pretty much proves that the policies undertaken by the MAME team [mamedev.org] were the right thing to do, even if they were sometimes unpopular amongst the users.

It all depends on the goal. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17894828)

If the goal of all those 140,417 (yup, the article si a few hunderd projects behind ;) ) is to make an everlasting impression and change the look of the world, there would be a lot of dissatified developers. However most of those project are just a idea, and other projects that are maintained have different goals. Maybe just for fun or to develop knowledge. Not everyone is interesting in taking over the world.

Winners vs. Losers? ... its not a game (5, Insightful)

CountJoe (466631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895040)

I don't appreciate the idea of Winners vs. Losers in the open source world. It's not a game. There are a lot of open source projects that never get released or never get a following, but that doesn't make them Losers. Sometimes you start a project and find out that someone else has already done, or is doing, something better. Sometimes you just lose interest. Things happen. At least some people are trying. And they're not losers.

I say this because I have started/joined several now-dead projects.

Re:Winners vs. Losers? ... its not a game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17895222)

I don't appreciate the idea of Winners vs. Losers in the open source world ... I say this because I have started/joined several now-dead projects.

Paraphrased: I say this because I don't want to be labeled a loser. ... j/k ;)

"Under way" ?!?!? (1)

Craigster (3771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895202)

No, there aren't "139,834 open-source projects under way" at SourceForge. Most are placeholders for ideas or to somehow reserve a name for a project someone would like to do someday. Of the projects that actually do exist, most are in 0.01a release, old, abandoned, and hardly in any kind of active development phase.

Barely anyone is a loser (2, Insightful)

rg3 (858575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895320)

I have developped several open source programs. Most of them very small tools, none of them over 3000 lines as much. From those, only one has a number of users in the thousands and can be considered a "winner". However, I use two more of them _daily_. One of those two doesn't even have 50 users if any. There's another one which I don't know how many people use but probably almost none, but I did it for my father, and he uses it from time to time with great results. And, finally, I did another one for an online friend that, as far as I know, has used it successfully many many times.

So, are they losers really? If I use them, I don't care how many more people use them. They fill my needs. If I create a program for another person or group of people and they use it frequently because it fullfills their needs, how can it be a loser?

The only losers are the programs that aren't used by anyone, the people that asked for it or their creators. And how much of those are there? I don't think many.

Those that provide an alternative to closed source (3, Informative)

cjmt (967208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895414)

The big winners (to me) are those projects who provide a viable or better alternative to available closed source software and those that you'd put into a business and trust to "just work". To find them you need to test, test and test some more. My winners, those that spring to mind immediately as being trusted not to embarrass me, are
  • mOnOwall [m0n0.ch] - firewalling
  • IPCop [ipcop.org] - firewalling
  • Metadot [metadot.com] - CMS
  • Apache [apache.org] - web server
  • Bind [isc.org] - Name Server
  • asterisk [asterisk.org] - telephony/voip
  • Sendmail [sendmail.org] - cussed but stable MTA
  • SpamAssassin [apache.org] - spam filtering
  • MIME-Defang [mimedefang.org] - email content filtering/manipulation
  • ClamAV [clamav.net] - Virus filtering
  • Freebsd [freebsd.org] - the best OS since sliced bread (IMHO)
  • Centos [centos.org] - Not to shabby an OS either
  • ...
The other winners are those that are used everyday as part of the tools to do the job and never really thought about. Nmap, vim, perl, portupgrade, cvsup and many more.

Re:Those that provide an alternative to closed sou (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17895798)

What about the best open source shopping cart?

OpenVista. (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895560)

Ouch, that's an unfortunate name. It's got to be up there with the great oxymorons of our time like Microsoft Works, and Trusted Computing.

all (2, Insightful)

treak007 (985345) | more than 7 years ago | (#17895800)

Even if only one person downloads the software and finds it useful, then the software is still a success. Perhaps not a success from a business model sense, but a success in an open source sense.
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