Science China Information Sciences

, Volume 56, Issue 8, pp 1–13 | Cite as

How commercial involvement affects open source projects: three case studies on issue reporting

  • XiuJuan Ma
  • MingHui Zhou
  • Dirk Riehle
Research Paper Special Focus


Whereas most research on Internetware has focused on new technologies for keeping track of a changing Internet, little attention has been paid to the software development process. A large portion of the software running the Internet is open source software. Open source software is developed both by volunteers and commercial companies, often jointly. Companies get involved in open source projects for commercial reasons, and bring with them a commercial software development process. Thus, it is important to understand how commercial involvement affects the software development process of open source projects. This article presents case studies of three open source application servers that are being developed jointly by a volunteer community and one primary software company. We are interested in better understanding developer behavior, specifically task distribution and performance, based on whether the developer is an external contributor, e.g., a volunteer working in their spare time, or a commercial developer from inside the primary backing company who is being paid for their time. To achieve this, we look at issue reporting as an example of commercial involvement in open source projects. In particular, we investigate the distribution of tasks among volunteers and commercial developers by studying the source of reported issues and quantify the task performance on user experience via the issue resolution speed. We construct measures based on historical records in issue tracking repositories. Our results show that, with intensified commercial involvement, the majority of issue reporting tasks would be undertaken by commercial developers, and issue resolution time would be reduced, implying a better user experience. We hope our methods and results provide practical insights for designing an efficient hybrid development process in the Internetware environment.


open source software development commercial involvement hybrid development contributor participation issue reporting 


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Electronics Engineering and Computer SciencePeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of High Confidence Software TechnologiesMinistry of EducationBeijingChina
  3. 3.Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-NurnbergErlangenGermany

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