Giving Away Software For Free Costs More Than You Would Think (Part 3)

For those of you less inclined to surfing all over my website, here’s a quick recap:

Part 1
: Did you know that the Ubuntu software repository contains 23,164 packages? I also introduce the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO), and finally, reference an article quoting that Debian ‘cost’ 1.9 billion dollars to develop back in year 2000.

Part 2: I detail my plan of attack to find out how much the Ubuntu distribution ‘cost’ to develop using COCOMO and SLOCCount by David Wheeler. Without his excellent program, this article would not be possible.

Downloading the source code took nearly 2 days, due to the nature of apt-get, you must first build dependencies, then download the actual source code. There were some annoying programs that once downloaded, require user input (such as LILO) and that paused the downloading process until I provided some human input.

It took over 8 hours for SLOCCount to process all 51,447 files downloaded, with a 3.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

I started this project with a brand new Gutsy Gibbon installation. By the time all was said and done,my hard drive contained 92.8 GB of gzipped source files, patches, graphics, etc – everything needed to build Ubuntu from scratch- and installed nearly 10 GB of dependencies.


Giving Away Software For Free Costs More Than You Would Think (Part 2)

Starting with Part 1 of this series, I introduced the idea that free software is expensive to give away.

For example, in 2000, the Debian distribution would have cost nearly 1.9 billion dollars to re-write from the ground up.

It’s been almost 8 years since that report was generated, and Debian has somewhat faded from the limelight. Ubuntu has taken the lead as the most-used desktop Linux distribution since then, and I would like to roughly calculate how much Ubuntu costs to give away for no charge.

I will outline and detail my method and solution to this question in 8 steps:


Giving Away Software For Free Costs More Than You Would Think (Part 1)

Little known fact: The Ubuntu distribution is now includes 23,164 packages.

How much did all of these packages actually cost to make? Well thanks to the Constructive Cost Model, (COCOMO) we can find out. COCOMO estimates how much it costs to write x number of lines of code, based on complexity of the project as well as how collaboration takes place (ie over the internet vs in an office), and many other factors. Then you get a ballpark figure of how much the software cost to develop.