Open source

Major European research institutions and Open Source software companies have announced the launch of EDOS, a project that deals with complexity management in the field of Open Source software.

EDOS participants will collaborate in developing theoretical and technical solutions for managing large-scale, modular software projects. EDOS will receive 2.2 million Euros in European Union funding, for a total budget of 3.4 million Euros.

Modern software projects have grown to unforeseen levels of complexity. For example, most recent Linux operating systems comprise thousands of individual packages. Putting such a system together is a difficult task for any large, modular software project. For Open Source software, with its traditionally short release cycles, this process must be repeated constantly.

Consortium members are specifically concerned with the problem of complexity in Open Source projects. As the amount of Open Source software grows, so does the size of the complexity issue. But solutions can be found.

Today, software building and testing processes are only partly automated, leaving much room for improvement in productivity and quality testing.

Participants in EDOS (Environment for the Development and Distribution of Free Software), will research and implement new ways to manage complexity in Open Source software.

The EDOS consortium has plans to develop two applications. The first addresses the software building process: a distributed, peer-to-peer application, designed to help integrate the many software parts that make up a Linux system.

EDOS members expect that the move from a centralized build and storage process to a distributed one will greatly increase efficiency, because storage and computing capabilities will increase exponentially, as will network throughput. Resources, however, are not the only concern: intricate problems involving dependencies between modules inevitably arise in large projects, with every part depending on many others for its proper operation. EDOS members will also research into a solution to this particular problem.

The second of EDOS’ applications will deal with quality testing. Today’s free software lacks a test suite that is both automatic and comprehensive. Testing a Linux OS, or indeed any large application built from Free/Open Source software, is an essential but time-consuming operation. Part of EDOS’ plan is to develop tools to make testing more efficient and more comprehensive.

A unified framework, not tied to any specific computer language, will allow developers to easily create test modules for their software. The overall quality of Open Source projects should greatly improve as a result.

The EDOS project will run for a period of 30 months. The resulting software will be released under an Open Source license, and theoretical results will be published in scientific journals as advances are made.