Posts Tagged ‘free software project’

What is the real development costs of Debian GNU / Linux – How much costs the development of a Free Software projects

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Free Software (FS) is free as in freedom as well as free as in price. Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is developed by geek hobbyist which voluntarily put their time and effort in writting, testing and sharing with anyone for free million of lines of programming code. This doesn't mean however the price of free software costs is 0 (zero). Though the "end product" –  Free Software developed is FREE, "real" software costs as with any other product costs huge money.

I've recently read on Jeb's blog an estimation on how much is the cost of one of the major Free Software project efforts – Debian GNU / Linux
According to James E. Brombergerthe whole Debian project was estimated to be at the shocking price of $19 billion – $19 000, 000, 000 !!!

Here is how JEB got the $19 billions, a quote taken from his blog:

"By using David A Wheeler’s sloccount tool and average wage of a developer of US$72,533 (using median estimates from Salary.com and PayScale.com for 2011) I summed the individual results to find a total of 419,776,604 source lines of code for the ‘pristine’ upstream sources, in 31 programming languages — including 429 lines of Cobol and 1933 lines of Modula3!

In my analysis the projected cost of producing Debian Wheezy in February 2012 is US$19,070,177,727 (AU$17.7B, EUR€14.4B, GBP£12.11B), making each package’s upstream source code worth an average of US$1,112,547.56 (AU$837K) to produce. Impressively, this is all free (of cost).

James has done incredible job with this great research and he deserves applause.
However I believe the numbers proposed by his research are slightly different if we speak about realistic cost of Debian GNU / Linux.
The real costs of the working software ready to install on a user PC are way higher, as according to Jeb's research only the software cost based on code line count is considered.

Hence James software estimation calculates only the programming costs and miss many, many factors that constitute the software end cost.
Some of the many, many REAL COST / expenses for developing a huge Free Software project like Debian GNU / Linux to be considered are:
 

a) bandwidth costs for hosting free software (on the server side)b) bandwidth cost for developers or FS users downloading the software

a) Time spend to spread the word of the great added value of Debian and bundled software (Mouth by Mouth Marketing)

b) Time spend to advertise Debian and its free software components on blogs, social networks (identi.ca, facebook, twitter) etc.(Voluntary online Marketing, SEO etc.)

c) Time spend on generating ideas on future program versions and reporting them to Debian FS community

d) Time on evaluation and feedback on software

e) Time spend on managing free software repository (download) servers voluntarily (by system administrators)

f) Time spend by users on Bug Tracking & Bug Reporting

g) Time spend on research and self-actualization by software developer)

h) Time spend on software Quality Assurance

This are most of the multiple factors which should probably influence the cost of any non-free (proprietary software) project. No matter this costs apply for non-free software, it perfectly applies for free software as well.With all said if if we assume the non-programming costs are equal to the programming costs of $ 19 000 000 000 (suggested by Jeb). This means the real cost of Debian will presumably be at least $32 000 000 000. Putting $ 19 billion for all this long list of "additional" costs (besides pure source) factors is probably still very under-scored number.
 

  • the developers use of their own computers (hardware depreciation)
  • electricity bill of the volunteer (developer) working on the program or project
  • electricity bills for servers where free software is stored and available for download
  • volunteer developer IT skills and tech knowledge (KNOW HOW)
  • Internet, network, dial up bandwidth cost
  • personal time put in FS development (programming, design, creativity etc.)! here the sub costs are long:
  • Costs for Project Management Leaders / Project Coordination
  • The complexity of each of the projects constituting Debian

Very interesting figure from Jeb's research is the Programming Languages break down by source code figure.
Jamesresearch reveals on the 4 major programming languages used in the 17000+ software projects (part of Debian GNU / Linux):

 

  • ANSI C with 168,536,758 – (40% of all projects source code)
  • C++ at 83,187,329 – (20% of all projects source)
  • Java 34,698,990 – (lines of code 8% of sources)
  • Lisp – (7% of all projects source code)

  His research also provides a general idea on how much the source code of some of the major FOSS projects costs. Here is a copy of his figures
 

Individual Projects

Other highlights by project included:

ProjectVersionThousands
of SLOC
Projected cost
at US$72,533/developer/year
Samba3.6.12,000US$101 (AU$93M)
Apache2.2.9693US$33.5M (AU$31M)
MySQL5.5.171,200US$64.2M (AU$59.7M)
Perl5.14.2669US$32.3M (AU$30M)
PHP5.3.9693US$33.5M (AU$31.1M)
Bind9.7.3319US$14.8M (AU$13.8M)
Moodle1.9.9396US$18.6M (AU$17.3M)
Dasher4.11109US$4.8M (AU$4.4M)
DVSwitch0.8.3.66US$250K (AU$232K)

 

As you can imagine all the source evaluation results, are highly biased and are open for discussion, since evaluating a free software project/s is a hard not to say impossible task. The "open" model of development makes a project very hard to track, open source model implies too many unexpected variables missing from the equation for clear calculation on costs. What is sure however if turned in money it is very expensive to produce.  At present moment Debian Project is sponsored only through donations. The usual yearly budget 5 years ago for Debian  was only $80 000 dollars a year!! You can check Debian Project annual reports throughout the years here , for year 2012 Debian Project budget is as low as $ 222, 677 (US Dollars)! The output price of the software the project provides is enormous high if compared to the low project expenses!

For us the free software users, price is not a concern, Debian is absolutely free both  as in freedom and free as in beer 😉
 

How to auto restart CentOS Linux server with software watchdog (softdog) to reduce server downtime

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

How to auto restart centos with software watchdog daemon to mitigate server downtimes, watchdog linux artistic logo

I’m in charge of dozen of Linux servers these days and therefore am required to restart many of the servers with a support ticket (because many of the Data Centers where the servers are co-located does not have a web interface or IPKVM connected to the server for that purpose). Therefore the server restart requests in case of crash sometimes gets processed in few hours or in best case in at least half an hour.

I’m aware of the existence of Hardware Watchdog devices, which are capable to detect if a server is hanged and auto-restart it, however the servers I administrate does not have Hardware support for Watchdog timer.

Thanksfully there is a free software project called Watchdog which is easily configured and mitigates the terrible downtimes caused every now and then by a server crash and respective delays by tech support in Data Centers.

I’ve recently blogged on the topic of Debian Linux auto-restart in case of kernel panic , however now i had to conifgure watchdog on some dozen of CentOS Linux servers.

It appeared installation & configuration of Watchdog on CentOS is a piece of cake and comes to simply following few easy steps, which I’ll explain quickly in this post:

1. Install with yum watchdog to CentOS

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# yum install watchdog
...

2. Add to configuration a log file to log watchdog activities and location of the watchdog device

The quickest way to add this two is to use echo to append it in /etc/watchdog.conf:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# echo 'file = /var/log/messages' >> /etc/watchdog.conf
echo 'watchdog-device = /dev/watchdog' >> /etc/watchdog.conf

3. Load the softdog kernel module to initialize the software watchdog via /dev/watchdog

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# /sbin/modprobe softdog

Initialization of softdog should be indicated by a line in dmesg kernel log like the one above:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# dmesg |grep -i watchdog
Software Watchdog Timer: 0.07 initialized. soft_noboot=0 soft_margin=60 sec (nowayout= 0)

4. Include the softdog kernel module to load on CentOS boot up

This is necessery, because otherwise after reboot the softdog would not be auto initialized and without it being initialized, the watchdog daemon service could not function as it does automatically auto reboots the server if the /dev/watchdog disappears.

It’s better that the softdog module is not loaded via /etc/rc.local but the default CentOS methodology to load module from /etc/rc.module is used:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# echo modprobe softdog >> /etc/rc.modules
[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# chmod +x /etc/rc.modules

5. Start the watchdog daemon service

The succesful intialization of softdog in step 4, should have provided the system with /dev/watchdog, before proceeding with starting up the watchdog daemon it’s wise to first check if /dev/watchdog is existent on the system. Here is how:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# ls -al /dev/watchdogcrw------- 1 root root 10, 130 Aug 10 14:03 /dev/watchdog

Being sure, that /dev/watchdog is there, I’ll start the watchdog service.

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# service watchdog restart
...

Very important note to make here is that you should never ever configure watchdog service to run on boot time with chkconfig. In other words the status from chkconfig for watchdog boot on all levels should be off like so:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# chkconfig --list |grep -i watchdog
watchdog 0:off 1:off 2:off 3:off 4:off 5:off 6:off

Enabling the watchdog from the chkconfig will cause watchdog to automatically restart the system as it will probably start the watchdog daemon before the softdog module is initialized. As watchdog will be unable to read the /dev/watchdog it will though the system has hanged even though the system might be in a boot process. Therefore it will end up in an endless loops of reboots which can only be fixed in a linux single user mode!!! Once again BEWARE, never ever activate watchdog via chkconfig!

Next step to be absolutely sure that watchdog device is running it can be checked with normal ps command:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# ps aux|grep -i watchdog
root@hosting1-fr [~]# ps axu|grep -i watch|grep -v greproot 18692 0.0 0.0 1816 1812 ? SNLs 14:03 0:00 /usr/sbin/watchdog
root 25225 0.0 0.0 0 0 ? ZN 17:25 0:00 [watchdog] <defunct>

You have probably noticed the defunct state of watchdog, consider that as absolutely normal, above output indicates that now watchdog is properly running on the host and waiting to auto reboot in case of sudden /dev/watchdog disappearance.

As a last step before, after being sure its initialized properly, it’s necessery to add watchdog to run on boot time via /etc/rc.local post init script, like so:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# echo 'echo /sbin/service watchdog start' >> /etc/rc.local

Now enjoy, watchdog is up and running and will automatically restart the CentOS host 😉