Open source consortium wins EC funding

The European Commission is committing millions of euros to a consortium examining the quality of open source code
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor and  Richard Thurston, Contributor

A European Commission-funded consortium has raised over three million Euros to fund a project testing the quality of open source software.

The consortium is made up from research organisations, consultants and those undertaking open source projects. Known as the Software Quality Observatory for Open Source Software (SQO-OSS), it is half funded by its participants, and half by the European Commission.

Among its goals, the SQO-OSS will benchmark the quality of source code to help to prove its suitability for deployment in businesses. It will also publish a league table rating open source applications according to their perceived quality.

"An industry matures when its products become standardised," said Diomidis Spinellis, project lead, and professor at the University of Athens in Greece.

"Through the objective evaluation of open source projects, SQO-OSS will provide many smaller and less known projects with the visibility and respectability they deserve," Spinellis added.

SQO-OSS is the second open source project to secure significant funding from the European Commission this month, following the extension in capabilities of the Open Source Observatory.

Analysts noted that similar projects already exist, but indicated that the SQO-OSS could still be valuable.

"It's always nice to have something that certifies open source software. However, this has been done before through initiatives like Coverity and it would be nice not to reinvent the wheel," said Laurent Lachal, open source research director at Ovum.

Coverity is an American company that is being funded by the US government to help make open source code as secure as possible.

Lachal believes that SQO-OSS needs to form links with the likes of Coverity, otherwise they are "just spending public money for the sake of public money."

He added that companies are typically more concerned about the quality of open source support, rather than the code itself.

"It would be nice if, apart from evaluating code, they also evaluated support," Lachal suggested.

The consortium consists of UK-based IT services group Sirius IT, KDE and ProSyst from Germany, Sweden's KDAB and the Greek Universities of Athens and Thessaloniki.

Its output will be released under the BSD licence.

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