It's good to know if any open source product is being used in the real world or not. It tells you
a) Are all the bugs exercised yet
b) Have people found challenges using the product.. and have the creators been responsive in meeting the needs
c) What kind of support will I get? In open source world, "support" is from 2 sources:- Companies that make money providing support for open source products (for example, springsource itself), and the user community that provides free support to each other on forums
When you are buying any product, you have to evaluate the "maturity" of the product. When you talk about paid products, the maturity of the product is tied directly to the maturity of the company selling it (which is why a lot of people go to Oracle, even Oracle might not be the "best" database for them). When you talk about an open source product, the maturity of the product depends on the company that is backing it, and the maturity of the user community.
I have found that it's useful to look at
1) THe release history of the product. Are there new enhancements being made, or are they all bug fixes. How critical are the bugs being fixed? If there are lot of critical defects, in one release, you know there will be a lot of "high" defects in the next.. and evem ore "medium" defects in the one after that.
2) the product's bug tracking system. How active is it? Are bugs being closed frequently?
3) How active and friendly is the community? Are questions languishing unanswered? Do the "experts" scoff at questions, or do they genuinely answer them?
Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:It's good to know if any open source product is being used in the real world or not.
I totally agree with you; I'm just not sure that a list of "famous and popular applications" is the right way to get that sort of information. Sounds more like a way of justifying the choice to a dubious boss or client (although I suppose that is the reality of our business sometimes ).
I imagine one could get an even bigger list of "powered by SAP" sites too, but from what I've heard about the product from colleagues (admittedly, going back a while now) I wouldn't touch it with a barge-pole.
Personally, I tend to like things like ComputerWorld articles and anecdotal customer reviews (preferably not from the product's own site) for that sort of stuff; not popularity polls.