Collecting data from distributed FOSS projects

TitleCollecting data from distributed FOSS projects
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsFagerholm, Fabian, and Taina Juha
Secondary Title3rd Workshop on Public Data about Software Development (WoPDaSD 2008)
Date Published2009
Keywordsbitkeeper, bug tracking system, cvs, distributed, email archive, fork rate, git, life cycle, linux, linux kernel, mailing list, merge rate, subversion, svn, version control

A key trait of Free and Open Source Software (foss) development is its distributed nature. Nevertheless, two project-level operations, the fork and the merge of program code, are among the least well understood events in the lifespan of a foss project. Some projects have explicitly adopted these operations as the primary means of concurrent development. In this study, we examine the effect of highly distributed software development, as found in the Linux kernel project, on collection and modelling of software development data. We find that distributed development calls for sophisticated temporal modelling techniques where several versions of the source code tree can exist at once. Attention must be turned towards the methods of quality assurance and peer review that projects employ to manage these parallel source trees. Our analysis indicates that two new metrics, fork rate and merge rate, could be useful for determining the role of distributed version control systems in foss projects. The study
presents a preliminary data set consisting of version control and mailing list data.


"We selected three projects from the initial set of projects: Linux 2.6, an operating system kernel, gimp, a graphics program, and Blender, a 3d content creation suite."
"To acquire data from each data source, we wrote special programs based on the earlier prototypes....The first program extracts information from mailing list archives....The second program obtains bug reports from bug tracking systems....The third program obtains source code from network-accessible version control systems and runs metric calculations on it."

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