Analyzing Risks associated to FLOSS Communities

Bitergia participated in the last LinuxTag event in Berlin that brought together the industry and FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open Source Software) communities in the same event.

I had the pleasure to present the basics of the analysis of FLOSS communities from a quantitative point of view, specifically focusing on the analysis of companies. Openstack was the project selected as a case study, where volunteers and companies are working together to build an open source software to build public or private clouds.

Among other questions,

  • Main developers
  • Understand who are the main developers: a company could be interested in hiring them or providing some financial support for specific activities.
  • Typical patterns of activity: in order to guess the effort that is being actually developed.
  • Regeneration of developers: turnover is almost impossible to avoid, but some policies could be derived in order to avoid knowledge loss.
  • Study of companies participating: some companies could be interested in better understanding what other companies are doing and the regions of the source code that they are modifying. Or even their importance in terms of number of developers and overall productivity.
  • Responsiveness of the community: when fixing issues in the source code, process is usually undertaken in the issue tracking systems or for instance, support provided in the mailing lists or forums.
  • Evolution of licensing and issues derived from them: this is probably a key difficulty when redistributing source code and integrating third part software
  • Orphaned areas of the source code that might be more prone to be buggy as well as low maintained areas of the source code.

From this perspective, companies, public administrations or other actors in the open source world might be interested:
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Analysis of reused code using FLOSS tools

Last week we attended Linux Tag in Berlin to give two talks. First one was about identifying reused code between two FLOSS projects and it was given by me. The second one explained the importance of studying FLOSS software communities and was given by Daniel Izquierdo.

The main aim of my presentation was to show that it is possible (and easy!) to get very interesting results about the shared code between two FLOSS projects using FLOSS tools; the ones we used in this case were: CCFinder, Cloc, Ninka and Grep. The study identified not only the common code but also the possible license issues that were found. These kind of studies can be interesting from different points of view, I’ve summed them up in the following questions:

  • how different are two software projects?
  • is it feasible to propose a merge of the code?
  • how is the derivate project using the original code?
  • are the licenses being respected? what about the copyright?
  • is the new project using new licenses that could be interested for the team that created the original work? are they improving the code?
  • what changes performed the second team on the original code?
  • is your source code being adopted by a certain community?

The presentation that was presented is available here.