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The free and open source software (FOSS) approach lets community of like-minded participants develop software systems and related artifacts that are shared freely instead of offered as closed-source commercial products. Free (as in freedom) software and open source are closely related but slightly different approaches and licensing schemes for developing publicly shared software. FOSS development communities don't seem to adopt modern software engineering processes. FOSS communities develop software that's extremely valuable, generally reliable, globally distributed, made available for acquisition at little or no cost, and readily used in its community. Free and open source software development practices gives rise to new view of how complex software systems can be constructed, deployed, and evolved. They rely on lean electronic communication media, virtual project management, and version management mechanisms to coordinate globally dispersed development efforts. These FOSS processes offer new directions for developing complex software systems. We look at the FOSS computer game community to provide examples of common development processes and practices.
Date of Publication: Jan-Feb 2004