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Managing open source contributions for software project sustainability

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3 Author(s)
Bhuricha Deen Sethanandha ; Department of Computer Science, Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA ; Bart Massey ; William Jones

The use of open source software has become a part of accepted business strategies. A primary strength of open source software is its leverage of outside innovation. All are free to take open source software and use it, evaluate it, repair it, and add new capabilities. One perceived risk of using open source software components in commercial systems is open source project sustainability. It would be expensive for the project supporting a critical open source component to fail midway through the life cycle of a commercial product. Many commercial organizations reduce this risk by contributing to the open source projects that they use. However, the "contribution barrier" for successful open source software projects is high, especially for commercial contributors. This barrier has technical and social components, both of which are exacerbated by minimal attention paid to good management practices. This paper proposes a process for managing open source software "patch" (source code and documentation change) contributions. By observation and by examination of current literature we identify key practices for patch creation, publication, discovery, review, and, application. An improved patch contribution process will lower the contribution barrier, helping to improve the sustainability of critical open source projects.

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Date of Conference:

18-22 July 2010