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Study Reports On Debian Governance, Social Organization 65

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the because-they-can dept.
andremachado writes "Two academic management researchers, Siobhán O'Mahony and Fabrizion Ferraro, performed a detailed scientific study about Debian Project governance and social organization from the management perspective. How did a big non-commercial non-paying community evolve to produce some of the most respectable Operating Systems and applications packages available? Organizations without a consensual basis of authority lack an important condition necessary for their survival. Those with directly democratic forms of participation do not tend to scale well and are noted for their difficulty managing complexity and decision-making — all of which can hasten their demise. The Debian Project community designed and evolved a solid governance system since 1993 able to establish shared conceptions of formal authority, leadership, and meritocracy, limited by defined democratic adaptive mechanisms."
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Study Reports On Debian Governance, Social Organization

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  • by msauve (701917) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:11AM (#23062902)
    it was an anarcho-syndicalist commune, where they take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week, but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting.
  • The Debian Project community designed and evolved a solid governance system since 1993 able to stablish shared conceptions of formal authority, leadership and meritocracy, limited by defined democratic adaptive mechanisms.
    That sure in heck sounds like something the government would put out.
  • How a big non-commercial non-paying community evolved and actually produces some of the most respectable Operating Systems and applications packages available?


    Look, I'm not saying that debian isn't awesome, but who payed them to say that?
  • by MECC (8478) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:35AM (#23063260)
    I for one welcome our debian ... nevermind.

  • PostgreSQL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:39AM (#23063298)

    Those with directly democratic forms of participation do not tend to scale well and are noted for their difficulty managing complexity and decision-making â" all of which can hasten their demise.


    Show me the PostgreSQL project's org chart. Show me the evidence that the project is not kicking ass.
    • Postgresql does indeed kick ass.
    • by xenocide2 (231786)
      Well here's some data on Debian [ohloh.net]. And here's some data on Postgres. [ohloh.net]

      More importantly, Ohloh suggests two people perform the bulk of the commits. I don't know much about postgres development, but it appears that there isn't much democratization in development. Which is fine. You want gate keepers to be able to ward off performance harming patches, and to guide those who are only peripherally interested in the project.
  • On the one hand, it's nice to see some analysis on more loosely organized software projects. It's definitely not something that the average corporate sponsored University department would do.

    It's also funny to see how short most enthusiasts memories are. Pre-Sarge, Debian was being criticized for everything under the sun.

    As an off-topic FYI, Debian Testing is in fine shape for a KDE desktop. I'm running two simple servers on testing and there are no show-stopper bugs. Get your Beta installation disk toda
    • by pipatron (966506)

      Pre-Sarge, Debian was being criticized for everything under the sun.

      Then they fixed it. Now it's great. Can't see the problem really. :)

    • there are no show-stopper bugs. Get your Beta installation disk today!

      And following install apt-bugs, so your system also won't have show-stoper bugs tomorrow.

  • Link to Article (Score:3, Informative)

    by ArIck (203) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:25AM (#23064044)
    The site has been slashdotted apparently but no fear, it does not contain anything useful information about the research anyways. You could download the original draft submitted to the journal at http://www.business.ualberta.ca/tcc/documents/TII_3_OMahoney_Ferraro_final.pdf [ualberta.ca]
    [quote]
    The following is the quote from google's cached version:
    Scientific study about Debian Project governance and social organization

    André Felipe Machado

    TerÃa-Feira, 27 de Novembro de 2007

    Two academic management researchers performed a detailed scientific study about Debian Project governance and social organization from the management perspective.

    The study analyzed 13 years of Debian Project history, interviewed some Project participants and previous Leaders, and carefully observed patterns.

    The open nature of history, registered at discussion lists archives and irc logs, meetings reports, helped a lot during the data collection phase.

    The study is VERY interesting as scientific analyzed HOW an open source project survived, evolved and flourished during 13 years, overcoming many troubles only challenged by long term BIG communities, reaching a solid institutional foundations to resolve disputes.

    The previously releasead version of the text can be found here.

    The latest revised version, published at the Academy of Management Journal, Oct 2007, Vol. 50 Issue 5, p1079-1106, 28p; (AN 27169153), is copyrighted and can not be published here.

    The authors are SiobhÃn O'Mahony , Assistant Professor at the University of California's Graduate School of Management, and Fabrizio Ferraro , General Management Professor at IESE

    Versão para impressão

    Baixar PDF Baixar a versão PDF desta pÃgina

    [/quote]
    • Hello, Actually, the google cache holds a very old article version. The present version has a convenient "compressed" 4 page text from the 65 study paper. At this momement, the site (into a very cheap hosting plan) is being slashdotted. You will have to wait a bit until it the tsunami passes .... Regards.
    • Hello, Actually, the google cache holds a very old article version. The present version (from this week) has a convenient "compressed" 4 page text from the 65 study paper. At this momement, the site (into a cheap hosting plan) is being slashdotted. You will have to wait a bit until it the tsunami passes or read the entire original 65 page study. Regards.
  • I have always been disappointed in ubuntu. Way too much crap thrown together that I don't need and I hate release schedules. I have been running debian-testing for a couple of years. It is always up to date, no need to do wacky reinstalls every 6 months. I always laugh at the ubuntu fan boys ranting about how they just upgraded to the latest release and about how they are up to date now. Even the latest release is several months behind debian-testing and I didn't have to anything except "aptitude upgra
    • Clearly, since you know what's aptitude is, Ubuntu isn't for you.

      As much as I hate Ubuntu, you point is silly. Ubuntu is made so that even idiot can use it. If you are not idiot - then move on. But some people - especially some ex-Windows pro-users - are very happy to have stable OS and 6 month upgrade cycle which really improves OS.

    • Re:Debian Rules! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by xenocide2 (231786) on Monday April 14, 2008 @03:23PM (#23068034) Homepage
      Ubuntu in many ways lit a fire underneath Debian. I liked Debian in 2002; by 2004 I was getting a bit tired of stupid jokes about being out of date, and I was tired of running development versions just to get a modern desktop. For example, the last version of xfree was finally released around the same time most distros were shipping the new and shiny xorg project x server. So when Ubuntu came around, that was great. They brought in some X guys to hammer Xorg into a working package, at great personal sacrifice. They made a push for Default debconf priority, to large success. They adopted a LiveCD approach while Debian was adamantly fighting Knoppix. They had a Code of Conduct that laid out some important ground rules that Debian was missing and refused to find. The brought a focus on the desktop that I felt Debian was lacking. And they had a commitment to releasing frequently. Six month releases is a step back from someone like me who used to run Debian unstable, but I was getting tired of random kernel pushes breaking video drivers and the like.

      Don't get me wrong; Debian testing is probably great for lots of people. If Ubuntu's trajectory continues as it is, I may one day return to Debian; as a result of Ubuntu's successes, they've adopted a number of Ubuntu's practices and policies. For example, they've adopted a wiki for community development, and a new proposal system for evaluating large scale decisions. And meanwhile, Canonical's success with Ubuntu has it focusing on strange contracts that draw resources from fixing bugs related to my personal uses.

      As for your comparison essay, the "ubuntu-desktop" meta package now suggests / recommends most things, and apt is set to bring them in on updates but not remove the meta package if they're removed. That way, they can bring in new features, and you can opt out of some of them, and it'll remember that. The bloat charge is a bit unfair. The default install is something usable out of the box. You're free to do the minimal install the same way you did with Debian, but disk space is cheap these days, and people only have so many hours in a day. Hating release schedules is a bit silly. One way you update everything at once, and the other the updates trickle down to you. The everything at once has the advantage that you can deploy new compilers / libc during the early fork without worrying that someone will accidentally screw themselves. Of course the downside is that pidgin may be outdated quickly, but I think it's been fairly lucky at not breaking network compatibility recently.
  • So, Tavistock, we just registered a spike in the use of the word "Governance" this week.
    What gives? Getting the serfs used to it are we?

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