The institutions of open source software: Examining the Debian community☆

TitleThe institutions of open source software: Examining the Debian community☆
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsMateos Garcia, J, Steinmueller, WE
Secondary TitleInformation Economics and Policy
Pagination333 - 344
Date Published12/2008
ISSN Number01676245
Keywordsauthority, COMMUNITY, conflict, debian, decentralization, growth, institutions, leadership

Free and open source software activities involve and, perhaps, evolve institutions (rules, norms and standards) that influence the formation, growth, and demise of communities. Community institutions are attractors for some individuals while discouraging other individuals from entering or continuing to participate. Their suitability may change as a community grows. This paper examines the institutions of the Debian community where issues of community identity, distribution of authority, and decentralisation have facilitated growth and development. These same institutions have also resulted in conflicts regarding community purposes and the quality and delivery of the community’s output. We examine the institutional redesign undertaken to address these problems and derive implications for F/LOS communities and companies.


"using primary data from its mailing lists archives, handbooks written to inform potential and actual community members, and previous analyses of institutional evolution and political conflict"

no discussion of which lists, how many, or when they were gathered...?[ms]

Short TitleInformation Economics and Policy
Full Text