Ockham’s Razor Principle

Hi all,
This post would try to find about 6 FOSS tools in 3 different categories and give an idea of what/which state they are in.

First of all I would have to apologize about not following up the Community Radio FOSS post. It will be followed, most probably tomorrow or the day after at the latest.

Some disclosures :-

a. I have also to say that some of my conclusions may be biased, as I’m more used to some programs/tools than others.

b. The title Ockham’s Razor Principle is not my own but borrowed from Dries buytaert blog piece titled “The Ockham’s Razor Principle of Content Management Systems” which states that

Given two functionally equivalent content management systems, the simplest one should be selected.

While he says that in the context of Content Management Systems I would say that it works for all kinds of software (particularly Free and Open Source Software).

With that firmly in the background, here goes nothing

1. Category Project Hosting :- The first category I am going to talk about is Open Source Project Hosting. Wikipedia has an excellent page of comparing Open Source Hosting facilities.

While as a user of FOSS tools, I have used few of the ones listed and few more which are not listed. Two of them are actually pretty interesting and let’s get to know a bit more about two of them.

a. Launchpad :- I recently wrote about Launchpad when it went open-source.

b. Sourceforge.net :- This is a web resource for source code repository.

Behavior and patterns :-

a. If you look at when the respective projects were launched, one can see that Launchpad’s and Sourceforge.net’s relative history, then it would be apparent that the former’s history is half than that of the latter. Also the number of projects is not even 1/10th of what is there on Sourceforge.net

b. This very well maybe due to popularity of the two projects both on alexa.com as well as on google trends (which doesn’t have any volume yet, to justify a graph on launchpad.net) .


c. Still, what is interesting is that just couple of weeks after Launchpad.net was released under the AGPL Sourceforge.net has been doing lot of site updates since the last three months or so whereas Launchpad has been pretty consistent in its releases.

d. If you look at the UI between the two, Launchpad.net has much more easier work-flow than Sourceforge.net . The downside perhaps might be that its perceived to be a part of Ubuntu rather than an independent project-hosting site as well.

A simple google search of the terms ‘launchpad.net.Project hosting’ and ‘launchpad.net Ubuntu’ gives the difference away. Unfortunately, launchpad.net hasn’t got enough history to be fruitful much in Google Trends.

e. There are few more factors to consider. One would be the licensing terms, while launchpad.net is AGPL’ed as told in the post before, Sourceforge.net is proprietary with the controversial Terms of use (IMHO).

Conclusion :- So while I’m not a betting man, if I were, and if I were a developer, I would surely host them on Launchpad.net rather than on Sourceforge.net .

2. Category Content Management Systems (CMS) :- Wikipedia has an excellent database of the various notable Content Management Systems . I’m going to pick two of them as both are close to my heart.

a. Drupal :- Well, there isn’t much I can say about Drupal. Its one of the most flexible offerings one can use. It boasts of being a weblog, a forum, a website and everything else except the kitchen sink and it works on PHP.

b. WordPress :- This is what you are reading on. As far as blogging and features for blogging go, they are the best.

Behaviors/patterns :-

a. Licensing :- Between the two as far as licensing is concerned, both are under GNU GPLv2 so that doesn’t make much of a difference. Atleast Drupal Core is GPLv2 .

b.Security :- As far as security is concerned, Drupal seems to have scored on that one more than WordPress has (on Drupal 6.x vs WordPress 2.8.x)

c. Roadmap :- While WordPress gives a clear roadmap Drupal on the other hand, has this. this unauthorized page and this . Why Drupal doesn’t have a roadmap can be seen by this blog post of Willy Boerland.

d. Free Hosting :- This is where WordPress.com weblog hosting excels. WordPress has an excellent wordpress.com where new users/bloggers gain traction. There is a nice support article which explains the difference between the product and this instance. Whereas AFAIK Drupal doesn’t have free self-hosting environment. This also affects how new and potential users would use the product.

e. Popularity :- As far as popularity is concerned, WordPress enjoys much better popularity than Drupal according to Alexa , Google Trends also gives the same story.

f. Usability :- WordPress is much more usable than Drupal as of this point in time. A big part of the usability has been wordpress usage of Human Friendly URLs within the wordpress.com and wordpress.org galaxies rather than Drupal’s dry node thing. A good practice as can be seen from this wikipedia page.

Conclusion :- It is indeed pretty apparent that WordPress is much more simpler to install and maintain than Drupal and hence should have more installations, Drupal still needs to work at its communicating with the community. Both of them also have to work more on their culture as far as openess is concerned.

3. Browsers :- The easiest while at the same the hardest of them all, Browsers kept at the last. Easiest because everybody uses them, hardest for the same reason as well 🙂 . Anyways, the contenders are my two current favorites

a. Google Chrome/Chromium
b. Mozilla Firefox

There are actually many others, but these two everybody knows so it will be easy to talk about them.

a. Google Chrome and Chromium :- Well, now talking about one is talking about the other as essentially they are now the same thing as the whole source-code has been opened up.

b. Mozilla Firefox :- While again a browser for which not much has to be said. Its the one which is developed by Mozilla Corporation.

Behaviors/Patterns :-

1. History :- While Google Chrome is obviously the younger one in the project as it completes just one year in few days while Mozilla has a long, long turbulent history.

2. Cruft :- Mozilla Firefox has had a long history and hence there is lot of dead code in its code-base. Chrome, on the other hand is brand new at this point in time, so we just have to wait and see.

3. Extensions :- Mozilla Firefox has a wide third-party Extensions base called Addons. Although this has been source of security and browser crasher issues as well. Mozilla has been addressing the issue, but its a long road ahead. Chrome due to it Multi-process architecture (first introduced by IE8b1 though)should be better at it. Chrome having extensions capability should be out within couple of weeks so then we would come to know.

4. Development :- Mozilla still uses cvs while having Mercurial locally. This is one of the issues which is still holding lots of things back. While Chrome uses Subversion for all its work.

d. Licensing :- Mozilla Firefox is licensed under the Mozilla Public License while Google Chrome is under the BSD License.

e. Standards :- Both the browsers have commitment as far as web standards go. While Google Chrome stable scores 100/100 on the Acid3 tests, Mozilla Firefox is little behind at 93/100

f. Communication :- Both use a variety of communication tools. While Mozilla uses mozilla forums as well as mailing lists , Google Chrome relies more on mailing lists which are hosted on Google Groups like chromium-discuss and chromium-dev. Google Chrome also does have a forum but it isn’t known or used much but then the project is still an infant.

g. Builds :- While mozilla has a concept of a Stable Build and Nightly builds, Google Chrome has the concept of channels which is very similar to rolling release infrastructure as popularized by Distributions such as Gentoo, Arch and Debian.

h. Market shares :- This is where the two differ greatly, while Mozilla has anywhere between 18-33% depending on whom you believe, Google Chrome is between 0.54% to 3.36% as of 2nd August 2009.

Conclusion :- Both of them are equally competitive, as far as market share is concerned Mozilla Firefox beats Google Chrome hands down, as far as technical and innovation is concerned, Google Chrome has a slighter edge.

Notes :-

a. While researching on the piece, updated as much as I could the respective Wikipedia entries of the projects.

b. Unfortunately, Sourceforge.net doesn’t give any data from other than last three months.

c. Historically speaking, Drupal has been more for big businesses and corporations while WordPress had been more for small and medium businesses. But with the way things are going, both are more or less evenly matched. This also tells of a certain work culture which exists between the two groups at this point in time.

Terms used

a. AFAIK :- As far as I know.

Please lemme know if you liked the article or not, and any other FOSS tools you want to compare or know more about 🙂

P.S. :- I am going to be very close to Flickr’s 200 photos limit so does somebody know of a service which has the following characteristics :-

a. It needs to be a free web service
b. It doesn’t have any draconian terms of use
c. It has support for .jpg, svg and png’s
d. and has support of bbcode to post the same to third-party blogs like wordpress.com.
e. It has good uptimes.

Please post if you know of the same.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.