typical development processes of free and open source software projects

master's thesis

an analysis of development processes and project management strategies of free and open source software projects aiming for concertedly models and processes.

abstract

free and open source software is a research subject which has constantly been gaining importance for modern digital life over the past 20 years. the world wide web as we know it today would have been impossible without the free availability of source code, vivid development communities and consequent support for open standards. despite these facts, there has been little research about the particular similarities or differences in the development processes and structures of free and open source software projects.

this thesis aims to provide an introduction into the development processes and project management strategies of free and open source software projects. to accomplish this, a project analysis catalogue is established with which free and open source software can be analyzed systematically and satisfactorily for the goals of this thesis. following this catalogue several free and open source software projects are analyzed in order to identify concertedly models and processes.

the results corroborate suggestions that especially large and mature free and open source software projects have established similar structures and processes. this includes very hierarchical structures with akin roles, similar release cycles and analogical development processes which cannot be resembled with traditional or agile software engineering methods.

getting it

this thesis is available under a creative commons by-nc-sa license. you are encouraged to share it with anyone. please support my work by making a small donation.

citation

for citations please use the following bibtex reference:

@mastersthesis{Siegel2012,
  author = {Daniel G. Siegel},
  title = {Typical Development Processes of Free and Open Source Software Projects},
  school = {Technische Universit\"{a}t M\"{u}nchen},
  year = {2012},
  month = may,
  url = {http://www.dgsiegel.net/foss-development-processes}
}

source code

you can clone the source code repository with git or browse it here.

git clone git://git.dgsiegel.net/master-thesis.git

errata

i am more than grateful for any corrections! please contact me if you do find any mistakes, ambiguities or other errors.

  • section 5.11.4, p. 76: debian is of course backed and sponsored by various commercial entities, the project is just not lead by those. (thanks to paul wise - 9/12/2012)
  • section 5.11.6, p. 77: the freeze before releases is usually long, not short. i.e. "shortly" referring to be the next step in the schedule not to the time between both steps. (thanks to paul wise - 9/12/2012)
  • section 5.11.7, p. 78: the technical committee makes the final decision on technical disputes inside project. development is in general driven by individual maintainers doing work according to their own motivations. (thanks to paul wise - 9/12/2012)