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

  • Darren Forrest
  • Carlos Jensen
  • Nitin Mohan
  • Jennifer Davidson
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 378)


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.


Governance Contributor affiliation Participation metrics Community sustainability 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darren Forrest
    • 1
  • Carlos Jensen
    • 1
  • Nitin Mohan
    • 1
  • Jennifer Davidson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EECSOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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