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What Open Source Can Teach Us About Software Process


Ruven Brooks, Ruven Brooks Consulting


Open source projects produce some of the highest quality software; products such as the Linux operating system, the Apache web server, and the Eclipse integrated development environment are known for their rich and powerful features, their low level of defects, and their good design. The software processes which produce these products, though, are in frequent contradiction to recommended practices in commercial software development.  For example, commercial practice holds that developers are not capable of determining requirements and, therefore, requirements specialists or product owners are needed; in most open source projects, the requirements are determined entirely by the developers.  In commercial software development, it’s  considered a best practice to have test teams separate from the developers; in open source projects, developers do nearly all of the testing.  The full list of differences is quite long.

In this talk, I will attempt to explain why open source projects succeed despite not following recommended or standard practices, and I will suggest how some commercial development projects may be able to take advantage of the open source approach.

About the Speaker:

Ruven Brooks is two years short of fifty years of experience in software development. He has engaged in a wide range of activities, He has worked in a number of roles ranging from computer science researcher to development lead and product architect to onsite customer support of commercial software and software process developer. He has worked in the telecommunications industry, health care, the petroleum industry, and the industrial automation industry. A nail hole on his wall is covered by his Ph.D. diploma in cognitive psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University.