Beta testers are vital for any new software product, but they're absolutely essential for open-source projects, since companies that sell such software often don't have big quality-assurance departments. That--and a sense of humor--explains why Romanian software maker BitDefender is offering beta testers large quantities of beer, plus a free trip to Romania, in exchange for their volunteer services. An Oct. 24 posting on the company's Web site offers 1000 Romanian beers and a one-on-one meeting with Count Dracula to the most thorough beta tester of its upcoming product, BitDefender Mail Protection for Enterprises. Similar prizes will be offered for runners-up. BitDefender security programs are designed to run on the Linux open-source operating system. Applications are being received at this page. BitDefender promises to give testers direct access to its developers and in-house testers. With that kind of respect accorded to the volunteers--plus the lure of beer and Dracula--I wouldn't be surprised if there's a strong response from Linux enthusiasts.

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