Evolution in Open Source Software: A Case Study

TitleEvolution in Open Source Software: A Case Study
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsGodfrey, Michael W., and Tu Qiang
Secondary TitleProceedings of the International Conference on Software Maintenance (ICSM'00)
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Place PublishedWashington, DC, USA
ISBN Number0-7695-0753-0
Keywordsevolution, functions, growth, lines of code, linux, linux kernel, loc, source code

Most studies of software evolution have been performed on systems developed within a single company using traditional management techniques. With the widespread availability of several large software systems that have been developed using an 'open source' development approach, we now have a chance to examine these systems in detail, and see if their evolutionary narratives are significantly different from commercially developed systems. This paper summarizes our preliminary investigations into the evolution of the best known open source system: the Linux operating system kernel. Because Linux is large (over two million lines of code in the most recent version) and because its development model is not as tightly planned and managed as most industrial software processes, we had expected to find that Linux was growing more slowly as it got bigger and more complex. Instead, we have found that Linux has been growing at a super-linear rate for several years. In this paper, we explore the evolution of the Linux kernel both at the system level and within the major subsystems, and we discuss why we think Linux continues to exhibit such strong growth.


"We examined 96 kernel versions..."
.c files, .h files only
loc, lines of code
number of functions
number of modules

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