Is It All Lost? A Study of Inactive Open Source Projects

TitleIs It All Lost? A Study of Inactive Open Source Projects
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsKhondu, Jymit, Capiluppi Andrea, and Stol Klaas
Secondary AuthorsPetrinja, Etiel, Succi Giancarlo, Ioini Nabil, and Sillitti Alberto
Secondary TitleIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology Open Source Software: Quality Verification
Pagination61 - 79
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Place PublishedBerlin, Heidelberg
ISSN Number1868-422X
ISBN Number978-3-642-38928-3

Open Source Software (OSS) proponents suggest that when developers lose interest in their project, their last duty is to “hand it off to a competent successor.” However, the mechanisms of such a hand-off are not clear, or widely known among OSS developers. As a result, many OSS projects, after a certain long period of evolution, stop evolving, in fact becoming “inactive” or “abandoned” projects. This paper presents an analysis of the population of projects contained within one of the largest OSS repositories available (, in order to describe how projects abandoned by their developers can be identified, and to discuss the attributes and characteristics of these inactive projects. In particular, the paper attempts to differentiate projects that experienced maintainability issues from those that are inactive for other reasons, in order to be able to correlate common characteristics to the “failure” of these projects.

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