“Software is like blood”


In this article, titled “Rise of Linux totally unstoppable I found the following quote especially interesting:


“Customers and governments will have to trust the software and the only way to do it is to show the source code, not just 90%. It’s like AIDS testing, you can’t say you’ve tested just 90% of blood”.


That quote is attributed to Martin Mikos, CEO of MySQL and certainly has a bit of truth to it. However, after thinking about it a bit , I think it is actually an excellent arguement against open source development – after all, if you were in a medical situation where you needed blood, what would you prefer as your supplier:


A. A large, stable, proven industry leader in the medical area of blood supplies, or


B. A loosely organized group of semi-anonymous part-time hobbyists collaborating over the web, with corporate sponsors.


I would pick A in a heartbeat. Even if B was substantially cheaper. 


Comments?

Comments (7)

  1. Jesse Ezell says:

    So, if I go get an AIDs test, they are going to drain 100% of my blood? lol.

  2. Denny says:

    what about "C" can it work?

    C. A large, stable, proven industry leader in the area of Open Source Software.

    seems to me we are close to that …

  3. Addy Santo says:

    I was wondering when the OS crowd would show up 🙂

    Point me to a "C" and I’ll consider it. So far I haven’t found anyone even remotely resembling that

  4. CausticMango says:

    Um, you do realize where blood comes from, right? Does it come from A or B? Think it through for a minute.

    By the way, exactly why WOULD you choose A? Case in point, I dare say Doctors Without Borders (the B in this example) does a much better job all around than most coporate or government organized healthcare provider groups (the A in this example) in many parts of the world.

    I’m not preaching that OSS or Linux is the answer (I don’t necessarily think it always is), but it may be interesting to examine your perceptions of the two types of ogranizations you’ve characterized and why you would feel a preference for one over the other.

    PS – Apropos of nothing, I’ll hazard a guess, too. You voted for George Bush, didn’t you?

  5. Your analogy is flawed. The quote relates to the trustworthyness of the product. A better analogy would be do you want blood guarenteed good by:

    a. A large, stable, proven industry leader in the medical area of blood supplies, that won’t dislose their tests or the results.

    or

    b. A loosely organized group of semi-anonymous part-time hobbyists collaborating over the web, with corporate sponsors that will show you all the tests done to the blood and the results.

    Personally I think both sides have validity. The large coorporation has more to lose should the blood be bad, but the loosely organized group releases all their results for public scrutiny, allowing you to verify the integrity of the blood yourself.

  6. If Software is like blood, why would I want to share it? I like my blood just the way it is, thank you.