Project to Boost Open Source Efficiency

Although open source software may be gaining in popularity, more projects mean a steady rise in complex managerial challenges.

With efficiency as its driving goal, a consortium of European research institutions and open source software companies have paired up to manage the complexity of large scale, modular projects by establishing a program called EDOS, Environment for the Development and Distribution of Free Software.

While operating systems such as Linux are multifaceted and break down into individual packages with decentralized ownership, efforts to glue the packages together have been centralized while building and testing processes are only partly automated.

To deal with this complexity, planners intend to move away from centralized builds and storage to a distributed process that, in particular, promises to provide more storage and computing power and efficiency. Partly automated systems also risk ignoring core dependencies between units as they apply to proper operation. EDOS members have laid out a course of action for keeping the integrity of dependencies by, "using the tools of theoretical computer science."

Roberto Di Cosmo of University of Paris 7 claims that theoretical computer science is particularly strong in France and that its formal methods can be used to manage complex dependencies to create an "integrated, coherent whole."

The group also intends to develop a computer language-agnostic framework that will enable developers to test modules through an automated and comprehensive system. So, as a result quality may improve and less time will be spent managing projects.

EDOS is comprised of 6 research and academic institutions and 4 software and services companies. Participants will contribute theoretical and technical solutions for the development of software projects. In turn, the European Union will provide a 2.2 million euro infusion of cash, contributing to total budget of 3.4 million euros.

EDOS has provided the following statement as reasoning for its investment: "Software projects have grown to unforeseen levels of complexity. For example, most recent Linux operating systems are comprised of thousands of individual packages. This makes putting together such a system a difficult task; and the short release cycles traditionally practiced in Open Source software mean that this task has to be constantly repeated. This is the case, not only for Linux, but for any large, modular software project."

The project will run for a period of 30 months and its findings will be continually published scientific journals as new processes are uncovered. All software born out of the effort will be licensed as open source. A full listing of EDOS participants is available on the Mandrakesoft Web page.

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