Leaving Behind the Software History When Transitioning to Open Source: Reasons and Implications

  • Gustavo Pinto
  • Igor SteinmacherEmail author
  • Marco Gerosa
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 525)


Maintenance of software history is regarded to be one of the most relevant features of Version Control Systems (VCS) and is well-known to be indispensable for software developers. However, transitioning from proprietary to open source software poses a challenge: keeping the software history might make available years of historical records and internal matters from the company that built the software. On the other hand, removing the software history may disturb the development and may be harmful to new contributors. We conducted a survey with open source software projects that made this shift to investigate (1) the reasons why they removed the software history and (2) the challenges that developers face with the lack of availability of software history. Among the results, we found that the most common reason for removing the software history is because it is entangled with proprietary code (the fact that the history contains sensitive information appears next). Interestingly, most core developers believed that the lack of software history is, in the worst case, “a very minor inconvenience.”



We thank our respondents and the reviewers. This work is supported by CNPq #406308/2016-0; PROPESP/UFPA; and FAPESP #2015/24527-3.


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustavo Pinto
    • 1
  • Igor Steinmacher
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Marco Gerosa
    • 3
  1. 1.Federal University of ParáBelémBrazil
  2. 2.Federal University of TechnologyCampo MourãoBrazil
  3. 3.Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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