Launched with fanfare a month and a half ago, OpenLogic Inc.'s Open Source Census, a survey of open source software adoption has scanned more than a thousand computers to date, but the tally is far short of the volume required to draw meaningful conclusions.
In late April, Broomfield, Colo.-based open source software and services provider OpenLogic initiated the survey with two objectives: to help it assist clients with support issues and to attempt to quantify the actual usage of open source applications and measure their relative popularity. For companies participating in the Open Source Census, the ultimate goal is for them to get a better handle on open source software governance.
So far, OpenLogic's Discovery Engine, which automatically identifies and inventories open source software, has searched 1,270 machines and detected open source software on about a third, or 478 computers. The engine identified 224,370 copies of open source software and 743 unique packages of open source applications, averaging 80 unique packages per company.
Of those computers with open source software, the leading operating system was Ubuntu, which was detected collectively on 46% of all machines with open source software (Ubuntu's Gutsy Gibbon tallied 28% and Hardy Heron, 18%); followed by Debian, 14%; Novell SUSE Linux , 12%; others, 12%, and Gentoo, 6%.
Among the top open source applications were the following:
- the Firefox browser, which was found on 83% of scanned machines with open source;
- Xerces, the Perl application program interface for Apache, 78%;
- the Zlib compression library, 76%,
- the xalan XML translator, 74%.
- OpenOffice, the word processing and spreadsheet program, was ninth, with 55%.
- and finally, the average number of open source application packages per machine was 177.
Calling more enterprise users
Ubuntu's strong showing reflects early survey participation by open source community members, but as more enterprises participate over the next three or four months, responses for Red Hat and SUSE should increase, said Kim Weins, OpenLogic's senior vice president of marketing.
Participating organizations in the Open Source Census gain insight into their own open source usage. Because many open source products are downloaded for free, open source software companies have no way to measure how many copies are in use. And without software licenses to track, companies typically don't know how much open source software they have, Weins said. Some companies have attempted to track open source software with spreadsheets, but this method is not very accurate, she said.
Many CIOs have had a "lack of awareness of open source software use" within their own companies, Weins said. But now that lawsuits have shifted focus from intellectual property protection to software license compliance, the situation has begun to change, she said.
In turn, this shift has prompted greater interest among CIOs in software governance procedures, which spell out who can use what software and under what terms, Weins said. And the first step in software governance is an accurate software inventory. That's why OpenLogic created the Discovery tool to automate the inventory process, she said.
Weins said the free survey initiative will ramp up over the summer , and prizes will be offered as incentives for companies with large numbers of machines available for scanning to participate. All respondents, however, can benefit from a free, automated inventory and the ability to compare their results with those in similar industries or regions.
To take the survey, simply go to the website, Open Source Census, download the Discovery engine, answer a few brief questions, decide when the scanning will take place and how many machines will be scanned, and the Discovery tool does the rest.
Survey respondents need not worry about privacy violations or potential lawsuits regarding their open source usage because the survey does not ask for information that could identify individual respondents or their companies, Weins said.
With greater participation by major companies over the next three or four months, OpenLogic hopes to accumulate a sufficient number of scans to establish credible benchmarks on open source adoption later this year, Weins said