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Leading an Open Source project

Updated on October 14, 2010

This hub will be about my own experiences leading an Open Source Project. What you should expect when you start your own project, the main problems and the main advantages. I will also tell what's happening when you upload your source code to a public repository from where everybody can download it, in advance I will say that almost nothing happens but as the project advances is not only nothing.

I am working in a VoIP Honeypot (project VoIP Honey) in order to keep track of VoIP attackers, and from an end-user point of view it can also be used in a production environment to notice who is attacking us, tracking what is he doing and if needed take the necessary actions to avoid this. From the beginning this project was an Open Source initiative, so there was no decision if I free or did not free this code as it's meant to be Open Source from start.

VoIP Honey

There are many services that offer you project hosting, but maybe the most popular or, at least, the one I decided to use is Sourceforge.net, this service covers all hosting needs for your project for free: website, bug tracking, support forums, ticketing systems, mailing lists, subversion repositories, statistics ...
So I decided to upload my source code to my Sourceforge project's subversion repository. I was wondering how many people would download the code and test it, how many of them will report to me if they find a bug, how many of them are willing to help me in project development, how many would find it interesting. But this is like Hubpages, you need hard, hard, hard and again really hard work to let your project be known and make people believe that you are offering something useful for them.

Sourceforge

There are many advantages and disadvantages in Open Source development. I will take care first of the main advantages leaving the worst part for the end of the hub.

The main advantages, at least for me, are: popularity, transparency and community growth. It's well known that an open source is more interesting than closed source (I say more interesting because it's not only about what the software does, it's also about how the software does it) and that's why usually open source projects are more popular than closed source projects with the same topic, finality and features. Transparency is very important, as nowadays we are living in a world of "malware", again open source is a win! Even from a end-user (non developer) point of view, open source software has absolutely nothing to hide. Community growth is spectacular with open source projects and it comes along with popularity. If we talk about closed source projects: only your workers have access to the project source code, only your workers are the community and in fact there's no community and of course no community growth. The only way to make this "community" grow is employing and paying more people for development.

Disadvantages: your code is exposed to attackers finding security holes, you can sell this piece of software but most of the people are not going to pay for it. For the first one, there's nothing to say as you are giving away your source code, it's easier for an attacker to find a hole in your software. Attackers also find security holes in closed source software but it's not so easy and it requires more advanced techniques as reverse engineering. On the other hand, closed source is more interesting for an attacker because it supposes more efforts and skills. The other one is only about money, and there are many ways to earn money with an open source project: giving "tech" support, special modifications and adaptations of the software for an specific need, donations, and many more (it only depends on your imagination). People will just believe that you have technical skills and important things to offer, and a lot of knowledge in this software development. They can see without any special requirement how are you developing this project.

And remember don't obfuscate or hide your code as it seems you should be doing something nasty, in fact you are calling reverse engineering guys to hack your software.

Share your code, and share your love.

As Linus Torvalds said, "Only wimps use tape backup: real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it"

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    • bytecoders profile image
      Author

      bytecoders 7 years ago from Spain

      Hi PcUnix,

      many thanks for your comment. I also like Linus quote.

      Glad you liked it.

    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 7 years ago from SE MA

      I always liked Linus's ftp comment :-)

      I don't have the coding skills to get involved with these things, but I certainly applaud those who do.