Saturday, June 11, 2011

Is open source green?

After the recent event by local linux users group we had some interesting discussions with newcomers about language choice of open source developers, why we're doing such event etc. And there was thought provoking question, which is 'Is open source green?'. Quick answer is yes, yes for sure. But how? Here I want to discuss how is it green.

Usually people write code to solve a problem or to accomplish something. If the code is open source we'll just use it to solve same problems elsewhere, or similar problems with a slight change. If it's closed we would write code from scratch or reinvent the wheel. That would require electricity to power a computer, time to write a code. Or maybe we need to work to make a money for a license. Using open source software and contributing to it you are saving your and people time, money and saving the Earth. So open source is so green for sure.

Now, I'll try to prove it by some numbers. According to Wikipedia, David A. Wheeler studied Red Hat version 7.1 which was released in 2001. He found that it consists of 30 million lines of code, which would have required 8,000 man-years of development effort and would have cost over $1 billion to develop. A similar study was made of Debian version 2.2 and found 55 million lines of code, which would have required 14,005 man years and $1.9 billion. So Debian version 5.0 is 324 million lines code or 6 times larger than 2.2 version. And it's safe to assume that it would have required 84,000 man year and  $12 billion. Do you know how these numbers are changed in 2011?

Man year is a estimate amount of work that would take a year for a average worker. Then it'll take 84,000 years for a developer to make Debian 5.0, or 84 years for 1000 developers. Open source today is a result of small contributions from millions of people. And it's available to you free of charge for every purpose. You can even change the source code. It allows us to save millions of watts electricity, such an amount of coal and save everything. So are you convinced that open source is GREEN and SO GREEN?


Mirek2 said...

Don't forget that lightweight desktop projects like LXDE allow you to have a modern OS whose energy consumption is minimal.

One thing that's not very green, though, is the removal of the "Power off" button in Gnome 3. I hope that it'll be shown in the user menu in the next release (without requiring the Alt shortcut).

jospoortvliet said...

You missed one important argument - openSUSE is VERY green ;-)