Walt Scacchi and his colleagues are conducting formal studies of the informal world of open-source software development, in which a distributed community of developers produces software source code that is freely available to share, study, modify and redistribute.
"Free and open-source software development is faster, better and cheaper in building a community and at reinforcing and institutionalizing a culture for how to develop software," said Scacchi, a senior research scientist who has taught software engineering for two decades. "We're not ready to assert that open-source development is the be-all end-all for software engineering practice, but there's something going on in open-source development that is different from what we see in the textbooks."
Not all open-source projects are alike, however. A small number of open-source projects have become well known, but the vast majority never get off the ground. Scacchi and his colleagues are trying to understand how successful projects, such as the Linux Kernel, grow from a few individuals to a community of a thousand developers.
To explore the breadth of open-source activity, they are looking at more than a hundred projects in several categories: network games, Internet and Web infrastructure, academic and scientific software and industry-sponsored activities.
"The software-intensive systems in today's world have become so complex that we need every available design tool at our disposal," said Suzanne Iacono, National Science Foundation (NSF) program director. "Open-source development has achieved some remarkable successes, and we need to learn from these successes as our systems become increasingly distributed, complex and heterogeneous. Traditional software engineering methods were originally developed for single-system design and development." >from *Faster, Better, Cheaper: Open-Source Practices May Help Improve Software Engineering*. December 3, 2003
> free software and open source. from wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
> major databases of open source software: SourceForge, Freshmeat, and FSF/UNESCO Free Software Directory.
> open source communities. april 21, 2003
> commons-based peer production. december 19, 2002
> fast load changing directions