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Orbiten Releases First Free Software Survey Results

By rusty in News
Fri May 12, 2000 at 12:58:51 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

Orbiten Research has released the findings of their first Free Software Survey. According to their website, Orbiten is "devoted to the practical understanding of Cooking-pot networks, the economic model for trans-monetary phenomena on the Internet." The survey aimed to find out just how much free software there is out there, how many authors there are writing it, and several related statistics. What did they find out? Some findings are summarized below, and you can read the full report for yourself at their site.

Orbiten aimed to get some grasp of the scope of this "free software community" that we all keep talking about by analyzing source code and attempting to extract authorship information. Their code base for this survey consisted of (from the report):
They found, not unsurprisingly, that the Free Software Foundation was far and away the most prevalent "author", being credited for just over 11% of the code, in 546 projects. Interestingly, Gordon Matzigkeit, who chatted with us here a while back about intellectual property, came in fourth (after the FSF, Sun Microsystems and the Regents of the University of California) in code volume, at 1.2%, and second in number of projects with 267.

Was the study flawed? Yes, by admission of Orbiten.

The first Orbiten Free Software Survey has been prepared based on over 18 months of work in identifying, tracking and modeling interaction in the free software economy. Clearly this was not enough time, and the scope and methodology of the first survey is far from ideal.
In the next survey, they plan to include code from SourceForge, OpenBSD, and perl's CPAN libraries.

Despite it's flaws though, this is the first serious, methodical attempt I'm aware of to actually quantify the size of the free software community. The sheer difficulty they had in trying to get authorship information raises several interesting questions. Should there be some kind of standard "Credits" format, that would be more easily parsable and would be clearer on who is to thank (or blame!) for the software you're using? Is authorship even a sensible metric in this context? What about all the documentors and active users, who provide bug reports and feedback?


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Related Links
o Freshmeat
o Orbiten Research
o Free Software Survey
o Cooking-po t networks
o RedHat Linux v6.1 source rpms
o http://www .redhat.com
o Linux kernel sources version 2.2.14
o Munitions cryptography/security archive
o http://mun itions.vipul.net
o Freshmeat [2]
o http://fre shmeat.net
o Free Software Foundation
o Gordon Matzigkeit
o intellectu al property
o Also by rusty

Orbiten Releases First Free Software Survey Results


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