This post originally appeared at The Var Guy
What is open source software worth? That's the difficult question the Linux Foundation is aiming to help answer in a new report that aims to measure the development costs of Linux-related Collaborative Projects.
Placing a price tag on Linux and other open source platforms is tough for several reasons. Most obviously, a lot of open source software is available at no charge, which means there's no clear answer to how much people would be willing to pay for it if it cost money. In addition, open code is often shared freely between projects, and some developers are paid for their work by companies while others volunteer their time.
But over the years, people have developed methods for measuring the value of open source code. In studying its Collaborative Projects, the Linux Foundation relied largely on the SLOCCount Model, which David A. Wheeler created in 2002 to determine the financial worth of a Linux-based operating system. The SLOCCount Model evaluates the total lines of code in a software project.
The study also took into account estimates of the number of person-hours required to produce the Collaborative Projects code, as well as development costs.
So, what's the total value of the Linux Foundation's Collaborative Projects code? A whopping $5 billion, according to the report, which is freely available from the Linux Foundation's website.
The Collaborative Projects code is not owned by the Linux Foundation. The projects are instead a set of independently funded ventures that the Linux Foundation helps organize. More than 500 companies and thousands of developers drive them.
Still, the Linux Foundation is happy to be able to place a more definitive financial value on open source code.
"Over the last few years every major technology category has been taken over by open source and so much opinion has been shared about the proliferation of open source projects, but not about the value," said Amanda McPherson, vice president of Developer Programs and CMO at Linux Foundation, and co-author of the report. "As the model for building the world's most important technologies have evolved from the past's build vs. buy dichotomy, it is important to understand the economic value of this development model. We hope our new paper can help contribute to that understanding."