What do you call open source software that just works?

by @edent | , , | 6 comments | Read ~241 times.

The fashion industry has the concept of "prêt-à-porter" - ready to wear. You pick a thing off the rack and off you go. No tailoring needed.

Similarly, the food industry has "prêt-à-manger" - ready to eat. No telling l'artiste du pain how much mayo you want, just grab a boxed sandwich and start munching.

What's the equivalent for Open Source Software?

(I know it is facile to say "There are two types of X in the world..." but I'm going to do so anyway.)

There are two types of Open Source Software in the world, those that "just work" and those that make you want to bash your head against your monitor and go live in the woods without electricity.

In my infinite wisdom, the best sort of OSS requires no installation, no esoteric configuration, no mystic incantations, no downloading dependencies. A simple ./whatever and you're off to the races.

I loathe stuff where the running instructions say "Install these seven external programs (half of which require compiling, the other half haven't been updated in a decade), fill in this tedious YAML document with a billion options, download yet another version of Docker for no particular reason, oh and remember to set --safe-mode=true when you run or it'll delete all your files."


I appreciate that some software is complex. And not everything is amenable to a flatpak or snap package. And a developer's time is finite. And you get what you pay for. And that sometimes it is simply better to have a steep learning curve.

But most times I just want to download and run.

So, on to the most important matter of this thesis. What should we call this sort of software? I conducted a highly scientific Twitter survey - and these are some of my favourite answers:

6 thoughts on “What do you call open source software that just works?

  1. @Edent prêt-à-démarrer - ready to start (as in the start menu on a PC)?

  2. Rare?
    It takes effort to make software consumable, but it's frequently the thing that makes people want to use it, and therefore contribute to it. You have to make the barrier sufficiently low for both to succeed. #openSource

  3. Dan Burzo says:

    @Edent How about: "Batteries Included (slang), in a product usability (mostly in software) it states that the product comes together with all possible parts required for full usability."

  4. Prêt-à-exécuter

  5. Or "prêt-à-l'emploi"

  6. Johan Empa says:

    @Edent an "app"? Click the install button and start using it.pet-a-GNU?

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