Prioritizing bugs to boost Linux adoption

Summary:What are the problems that need to be solved to boost Linux adoption? And in what order?

What are the problems that need to be solved to boost Linux adoption? And in what order? If we get the order right, we can make more users happier faster, says Scott Ritchie.

Ritchie starts by looking at bugs in Wine. After 16 years in development (give or take), Wine is pretty good, but it still can't run all Windows applications perfectly. It runs some very well, and some not at all. But it's not yet where users can simply run their Windows apps on Linux.

Ritchie looks at the bugs that Wine needs to solve before being able to run all Windows applications, and estimates about 10,000 bugs before it will be complete. That's a lot of bugs, but not all bugs are equal. Some fixes will make more users happy than others:

Now let’s define an application as some subset of these bugs.  A working application is one that has all its bugs solved.  We can also give each bug a different relative probability of affecting an application - maybe bug x is 10 times more likely to affect an application than bug y.

A user is then defined as a set of applications he needs.  A “happy user” is one who has all his applications working.  Just like with the applications, we can assign relative probabilities to reflect the real world - World of Warcraft is 60 times more likely than CuteCatExploderPro.

After doing some thinking along those lines, and some scripting to model different scenarios, Ritchie comes to the conclusion: "The strategy we use - the order we tackle various bugs - really does matter.  Every strategy gets to the perfect 100% end after solving all the bugs, but some get you 10 times as many happy users when you’re only half done.  In practice, having far more users likely translates into extra developers and a much faster rate of development."

The same thing is true of Linux: If you look at some of the barriers of entry for potential users, some are much higher than others. Driver support affects more users than other bugs or potential improvements. Now the question is, which barriers to knock down to make the most users happiest the fastest?

Topics: Enterprise Software, Linux, Open Source


Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is the community manager for openSUSE, a community Linux distro sponsored by Novell. Prior to joining Novell, Brockmeier worked as a technology journalist primarily covering the Linux and FOSS beat, and wrote for a number of publications, such as Linux Magazine,, Sys Admin,, IBM developer... Full Bio

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