Exploring the Role of Outside Organizations in Free / Open Source Software Projects

TitleExploring the Role of Outside Organizations in Free / Open Source Software Projects
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsForrest, D, Jensen, C, Mohan, N, Davidson, J
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Secondary TitleIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology 378 (OSS 2012)
Date Published09/2012
PublisherIFIP AICT
Keywordsbug reports, commit, Community sustainability, Contributor affiliation, gcc, governance, linux kernel, Participation metrics

Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) projects have a reputation for being grass-roots efforts driven by individual contributors volunteering their time and effort. While this may be true for a majority of smaller projects, it is not always the case for large projects. As projects grow in size, importance and complexity, many come to depend on corporations, universities, NGO’s and governments, for support and contributions, either financially or through seconded staff. As outside organizations get involved in projects, how does this affect their governance, transparency and direction? To study this question we gathered bug reports and commit logs for GCC and the Linux Kernel. We found that outside organizations contribute a majority of code but rarely participate in bug triaging. Therefore their code does not necessarily address the needs of others and may distort governance and direction. We conclude that projects should examine their dependence on outside organizations

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