Open source rival attacks 'terrible' Linux

Linus Torvalds' brainchild is full of "cheap little hacks", says the founder of OpenBSD

The founder of the OpenBSD operating system has criticised the quality of Linux software claiming that it is full of code hacks, according to reports.

Theo de Raadt, the founder and lead developer of the open source operating system OpenBSD, said Linux developers should work to improve the quality of the code, according to an interview in Forbes .

"It's terrible," De Raadt reportedly said. "Everyone is using it, and they don't realise how bad it is. And the Linux people will just stick with it and add to it rather than stepping back and saying, 'This is garbage and we should fix it.'"

Linux is lower quality than Open BSD and many parts of Linux are "cheap little hacks", added De Raadt.

OpenBSD is a secure Unix-like operating system, that is popular among system administrators running firewalls. De Raadt told ZDNet in an earlier interview that it maintains its high code quality through rigorous code auditing and by spreading major code changes across three six-month releases.

"We are the software auditing kings -- we go through code a lot to make sure there are not many bugs," said de Raadt.

Various studies in the past have praised Linux for its code quality compared with proprietary operating systems. A study in December 2004 by code analysis company Coverity found that the Linux kernel had only 985 bugs in 5.7 million lines of code, significantly fewer than the 5000 bugs that would be expected in a commercial program of similar size. Another study in 2003, which compared the implementation of a networking component in different operating systems, found that the Linux defect rate was 0.1 defects per 1,000 lines of code, compared with a defect rate of between 0.6 and 0.7 in general-purpose operating systems, according to software inspection service company Reasoning.

De Raadt also criticised hardware makers such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM for using Linux as an unpaid workforce, rather than spending money to develop their own version of Unix.

IBM, HP and Sun have come under criticism before for their work with the open source community. Jesús Villasante, the head of software technologies at the EC's Information Society and Media Directorate General, said last month that big companies such as IBM, HP and Sun are using the open source community as subcontractors rather than encouraging the community to develop independent commercial products.

"IBM says to a customer, 'Do you want proprietary or open software?' Then [if they want open source] they say 'Ok, you want IBM open source.' It is [always] IBM or Sun or HP open source," asserted Villasante, speaking at a debate on open source innovation at the Holland Open Software Conference in Amsterdam.

The full Forbes interview with De Raadt can be read here.