It’s Not All Drum Circles and Kumbaya: How Free and Open Source Software Really Works

It’s Not All Drum Circles and Kumbaya: How Free and Open Source Software Really Works

Professor Megan Squire
Department of Computing Sciences
Elon University

Monday, March 20

4-5pm  (Reception 3:30-4pm)

Manchester Hall 241

For software engineering researchers, the free, libre, and open source software (FLOSS) phenomenon has been a wild ride. This talk will trace the origins of FLOSS, from its radical beginnings to the state of the practice today. Now that FLOSS has “won” and even stalwarts like Microsoft have bent the knee, what has the success of FLOSS revealed to researchers about effective software development practices? We will look at current research to ponder questions like:
  • If FLOSS is such a freedom-loving, horizontal, democratic process, why does Linus Torvalds call himself a dictator and curse at his developers so much?
  • Why is FLOSS development done on Github and Slack when those products aren’t even “open source” themselves?
  • Is it true that the FLOSS developer community is 98.5% male, and does this point to underlying problems?
  • Why does FLOSS even matter anymore since everything is on The Cloud and even if you have the source code you can’t really run it?

Takeaways include: a deeper understanding of what FLOSS is, insight into the promises and challenges presented by FLOSS, and inspiration for future software engineering research directions.