You Get What Everyone Paid For

How many times have you seen this quote associated with open source software?

"You get what you pay for."
Whenever I see that, I throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Everybody in the community around an open source project chips in, even just as a user promoting software or filing a bug report. With open source software, you don’t get what you pay for. You get what everyone paid for. And what everyone paid can add up to a lot.

Two cases in point:

  • Paul Ramsey posted the results of a PostGIS vs Oracle benchmark. In nearly all tests, PostgreSQL and PostGIS flattened Oracle. That probably comes as a surprises to the folks that use (and dump an astronomical amount of money on) Oracle. It shouldn't surprise any of us that use Postgres and PostGIS.
  • As reported here, here, here, and here, Coverity released its 2011 Coverity Scan Open Source Integrity Report. This study, the "largest public-private sector research project focused on open source software integrity", scanned and tested 37 million lines of code from 45 active open source projects and 300 million lines of code from 41 anonymous proprietary codebases. Coverity found that open source code has fewer defects per thousand lines of code than proprietary software. In particular, the report found Linux 2.6, PHP 5.3, and PostgreSQL 9.1 could be used as industry benchmarks due to the low defect density in the code.