08 May 2008

Open Source Census, Notes

Dru Lavigne mentioned an interesting new project in her recent post, "Calling All BSD Users". It's called The Open Source Census. They want to collect data on the use of open source software. I've looked over their site and it certainly has a professional presentation and all of the assurances regarding privacy that you'd want and expect. I have a scan running on one of my home machines right now. It must be pretty thorough -- it takes a few minutes to run!

As Dru points out in her post: "This is an excellent opportunity for the BSD community to show their numbers and to get the BSDs into the operating system piechart in the published reports." And, I couldn't agree more. It's one of the first things I went looking for. (Find it around the middle of this page.) I'm a little concerned that the title of the chart is "Top Linux Distributions". However, the description says that it "reflects data from all Census participants." Still, the numbers don't seem to add up, as the numbers from the chart add up to 442 while the table at the top says that 957 machines have been scanned. Hmmmm. (That mystery aside, I observe that Ubuntu's appalling hegemony continues unabated.)

One more note. I got this error when running it on my 6.3 machine:
stoney$ ./discovery --census-code YOUR-CENSUS-CODE-GOES-HERE
/usr/path/ossdiscovery-2.0.1/lib/plugins/census/census_utils.rb:56: uninitialized constant OpenSSL::Digest::SHA256 (NameError)
from /usr/path/ossdiscovery-2.0.1/lib/plugins/census/init.rb:31:in `require'
from /usr/path/ossdiscovery-2.0.1/lib/plugins/census/init.rb:31
from /usr/path/ossdiscovery-2.0.1/lib/discovery.rb:131:in `require'
from /usr/path/ossdiscovery-2.0.1/lib/discovery.rb:131:in `load_plugins'
from /usr/path/ossdiscovery-2.0.1/lib/discovery.rb:131:in `glob'
from /usr/path/ossdiscovery-2.0.1/lib/discovery.rb:131:in `load_plugins'
from /usr/path/ossdiscovery-2.0.1/lib/discovery.rb:134

This one turns out not to be a big mystery. If you check "census_utils.rb" line 56, you'll see a comment on the previous line that explains it's using sha256 and that's not found in openssl 0.9.7, as on FreeBSD 6.3. But, it is found in openssl 0.9.8, as included with FreeBSD 7.0. Ergo, I'm able to run the scan on one machine and not the other. There seems to be a solution to this by running under Java, by way of Jruby (in ports).

If you're interested in playing with this without registering, you might want to go straight here. (It was sort of a pain to find that page before registering.) You probably have ruby installed already and, if so, you can use the smaller download. ... I'm starting to see some advantage in registering before you run the scan, however. It really does take a while. Mine is at 74 minutes and still running and, if I understand things correctly, I'll have to register and rescan with my "census code" if I want to have the report available for my on-line perusal. (Or, I could just submit it anonymously.)

In spite of these minor glitches, I agree with Dru: this looks like it will be a great way to support BSD!



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