The Onion Structure in FLOSS projects

The social structure in free software projects give to us a lot of informations about a lot of questions related with a FLOSS community:

  • Coordination.
  • Control.
  • Socialization.
  • Continuity
  • Learning.

Unlike the social structures in projects where proprietary software development is centralized structure, in free software projects usually we can find a well defined structure, called onion structure, as we see in the image, which has the following features:

– It usually meets Pareto’s Law, by which, in a social structure the 20% of people do 80% of the work and the remaining 80% of people do 20% of the work.

– Size of each layer differs by an order of magnitude.

– The composition of the core evolves over time.

For example, we see this structure, GCC for the GNU project, the following chart:

In my opinion it makes sense to produce these types of organizations in the communities of free software, because a large part of the contributors are volunteers, many of these may not have sufficient time to engage in a comprehensive manner in the project, so that people with higher motivation, of whatever kind, are the people who contribute more than others and are often are the less in the communities. I sincerely believe that on many occasions in private projects there is a similar situation, the ability to contribute to a project is not so great for newcomers than for people who take some time involved in the project.


The social structure of Free and Open Source software development




  1. #1 por Tiffany Labay el enero 20, 2012 - 12:08 pm

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