The Labor of Maintaining and Scaling Free and Open-Source Software Projects

Authors : Richard Geiger, Dorothy Howard, Lilly Irani

Free and/or open-source software (or F/OSS) projects now play a major and dominant role in society, constituting critical digital infrastructure relied upon by companies, academics, non-profits, activists, and more. As F/OSS has become larger and more established, we investigate the labor of maintaining and sustaining those projects at various scales.

We report findings from an interview-based study with contributors and maintainers working in a wide range of F/OSS projects. Maintainers of F/OSS projects do not just maintain software code in a more traditional software engineering understanding of the term: fixing bugs, patching security vulnerabilities, and updating dependencies.

F/OSS maintainers also perform complex and often-invisible interpersonal and organizational work to keep their projects operating as active communities of users and contributors. We particularly focus on how this labor of maintaining and sustaining changes as projects and their software grow and scale across many dimensions.

In understanding F/OSS to be as much about maintaining a communal project as it is maintaining software code, we discuss broadly applicable considerations for peer production communities and other socio-technical systems more broadly.

URL : The Labor of Maintaining and Scaling Free and Open-Source Software Projects

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Histoires et cultures du Libre. Des logiciels partagés aux licences échangées


“Fruit de la collaboration inédite d’auteurs provenant d’horizons disciplinaires différents, par des approches thématiques et des études de cas, cet ouvrage propose une histoire culturelle du Libre non seulement à travers l’histoire de l’informatique, mais aussi par les représentations sociales, philosophiques, juridiques et économiques qu’a cristallisées le mouvement du logiciel libre jusqu’à nos jours.
À l’aide de multiples clés d’analyse, et sans conception partisane, ce livre dresse un tableau des bouleversements des connaissances et des techniques que ce mouvement a engendrés. Le lecteur saura trouver dans cette approche ambitieuse et prospective autant d’outils pour mieux comprendre les enjeux de l’informatique, des réseaux, des libertés numériques, ainsi que l’impact de leurs trajectoires politiques dans la société d’aujourd’hui.”


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How to choose an free and open source in…

How to choose an free and open source integrated library system:

Purpose : This paper seeks to present the results of an analysis of 20 free and open source ILS platforms offered to the library community. These software platforms were subjected to a three-step analysis, whereby the results aim to assist librarians and decision makers in selecting an open source ILS, based on objective criteria.

Design/methodology/approach : The methodology applied involves three broad steps. The first step consists of evaluating all the available ILSs and keeping only those that qualify as truly open source or freely-licensed software. During this step, the correlation between the practices within the community and the terms associated with the free or open software license was measured. The second step involves evaluating the community behind each open source or free ILS project, according to a set of 40 criteria in order to determine the attractiveness and sustainability of each project. The third step entails subjecting the remaining ILSs to an analysis of almost 800 functions and features to determine which ILSs are most suited to the needs of libraries. The final score is used to identify strengths, weaknesses and differentiating or similar features of each ILS.

Findings : More than 20 open source ILSs were submitted to this methodology, but only three passed all the steps: Evergreen, Koha, and PMB. The main goal is not to identify the best open source ILS, but rather to highlight from which, of the batch of dozens of open source ILSs, librarians and decision makers can choose without worrying about how perennial or sustainable each open or free project is, as well as understanding which ILS provides them with the functionalities to meet the needs of their institutions.

Practical implications : This paper offers a basic model so that librarians and decision makers can make their own analysis and adapt it to the needs of their libraries.

Originality/value: This methodology meets the best practices in technology selection, with a multiple criteria decision analysis. It can also be easily adapted to the needs of all libraries.”


Free Technology Academy : a Joint Ventur…

Free Technology Academy : a Joint Venture of Free Software and OER :

“The decision to publish educational materials openly and under free licenses brings up the challenge of doing it in a sustainable way. Some lessons can be learned from the business models for production, maintenance and distribution of Free and Open Source Software. The
Free Technology Academy (FTA) has taken on these challenges and has implemented some of these models. We briefly review the FTA educational programme, methodologies and organisation, and see to which extent these models are proving successful in the case of the FTA.”


Free/Libre Open Source Software, Liberal…

Free/Libre Open Source Software, Liberalism, Conviviality and Private Property. An anthropological view of Zotero advocates :

“This study examines Free/Libre Open Source Software and its inherent
problematisation of property rights. An ethnographic study of a network of FLOSS advocates based in academic libraries supporting the use of bibliographical management tool Zotero is used as a way of teasing out themes of community, conviviality, liberalism and definitions of ‘free’ to examine how property rights around ideas formed into software question commercial proprietary forms of commoditisation.”


Open Source Software Libraries : “Open …

Open Source Software Libraries :

“Open source software is not something to be afraid of! It’s software that you can modify, fix, add to, and distribute to others. Benefits are numerous, including having the ability to create good software that works for you and your library, all while paying a fraction of the cost that you might spend on proprietary software. This website introduces librarians to using open source software and provides tips for implementing and evaluating your transition, ideas for funding, and suggestions for open source software to use in your library.”