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Open-source software catalog draws fire from those snubbed

The Optaros guide rates 262 favorite open-source apps

By Eric Lai
January 10, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Open-source systems integrator Optaros Inc. today released a guide listing and reviewing what it considers the 262 best open-source applications for companies.

The catalog, available on Optaros' Web site, rates software on a scale of 1 to 5 on factors such as functionality, the vibrancy of the developer community behind it, the software's maturity and stability, and its projected trajectory. Those factors are then used to calculate the software's readiness for use by midsize and large corporations.

The minireviews were based on the experiences of nearly 100 consultants, many of whom had directly installed or maintained the software for clients. The reviews all involve products released by last fall and include only the best of the nearly 140,000 open-source software projects available, according to the catalog's primary author, Bruno von Rotz.

"Every tool that made its way into our catalog is already pretty good, even if we gave it only a 1 or 2 [out of 3] for its enterprise readiness," he said.

Some of the rankings for well-known open-source software were surprising. The Berkeley DB XML database garnered only an enterprise readiness rating of 1. Oracle Corp., which acquired the database last year, did not reply to a request for comment by press time.

Hot groupware product Zimbra also got a 1 for enterprise readiness (products rated zero are not included in the guide). According to a spokeswoman for San Mateo, Calif.-based Zimbra Inc., the review was for the 3.0 version of its collaboration software. "Optaros has been so impressed by the improvements in Zimbra Collaboration Suite 4.0 that they are deploying it for internal use, and they are now a customer," she said.

OpenJMS, a seven-year-old open-source middleware product based on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java Messaging Service, also got low ratings. But Tim Anderson, an Australian developer who is one of the OpenJMS's project leaders, said he has "no criticism of the accuracy. OpenJMS has been in a holding pattern for some time due to family and work commitments. There will be a beta released in the next few months."

Other open-source developers, however, disputed Optaros' ratings and questioned the consultancy's objectivity because of marketing or reseller relationships it has with certain open-source vendors.

Jeremy White, CEO of St. Paul, Minn.-based CodeWeavers Inc., is one such critic. His company sells the CrossOver family of software that has long let users run Windows software on computers running Apple Inc.'s Mac OS X or the Linux OS.

CrossOver is based around the open-source Wine project, for which White is one of the chief maintainers. Optaros gave Wine only a 2 out of 5 for the product's maturity, and an overall score of 1 for enterprise readiness.



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