Talks/Debconf 2006 preparation

From WikiDotMako

Please add new information to Debconf2006TalkAdditions

Page Overview

In May 2006, BenjaminMakoHill will be giving a talk at Debconf -- the annual meeting of Debian developres -- that offers a multi-disciplinary partial summary of academic research on and around the Debian project. The goal of the talk is to help the Debian project learn from the insights and data of academic analysese of their project.

In preparation for this talk, this page tries to collect a bibliography of academic papers written about Debian. I need your help to make this page as complete as possible.

PLEASE feel free to edit this page and to add lists of academic work that you or someone you know has done.

To add a paper to this page, edit this page and then cut and paste the following template to the bottom of the page, filling it out to the best of your ability:

== Title ==


 * ''Author(s):'' Author or Authors (Affiliation)
 * ''Type/Discipline:'' Discipline (e.g., Software Engineering/Sociology)
 * ''Publication Date:'' Date
 * ''Publication:''
 * ''More Information/Link:'' Link to PDF or more information


  The abstract

If you have reason to believe that the work will not be accessible online from University with a large number of journals, please email a PDF to BenjaminMakoHill at so he can review the paper for the conference.


Three Ethical Moments in Debian



This article is a detailed examination of ethical cultivation as it occurs in the Debian project, whose volunteers produce a non-commercial distribution of the GNU/Linux OS. Thus far, much of the literature on free and open source software (F/OSS) production has been heavily focused on the question of motivation or incentive mechanisms and has tended to ignore how hacker valuations, motivations, and commitments are transformed by the lived experiences that unfold in F/OSS projects and institutions that are mediated through project charters and organizational procedures. In this anthropological piece, I draw heavily on the work of the legal theorist Robert Cover (1992), who examines the ways in which "jurigenisis," the production and stabilization of inhabited normative and legal meanings, requires an ongoing and sometimes conflicting narrative interpretation of codified textual norms. I specify his model in examining how three different ethical moments are the grounds for the adoption, transformation, and re-evaluation of a set of values related to accountability, freedom, transparency, openness, and mutual aid: conflict-free enculturation, legal pedagogy and production, and lastly crisis.

Managing the Boundary of an 'Open' Project



Theorists have speculated how open source software projects with porous boundaries and shifting and indeterminate membership develop code in an open and public environment. This research uses a multi-method approach to understand how one community managed open source software project, Debian, develops a membership process. We examine the project's face-to-face social network during a five-year period (1997-2002) to see how changes in the social structure affect the evolution of membership mechanisms and the determination of gatekeepers. While the amount and importance of a contributor's work increases the probability that a contributor will become a gatekeeper, those more central in the social network are more likely to become gatekeepers and thus influence the membership process. A greater understanding of the mechanisms open projects use to manage their boundaries has critical implications for knowledge producing communities operating in pluralistic, open and distributed environments. It also contributes to our theoretical understanding of how network structures help shape the construction of new social orders.

From Bazaar to Kibbutz: How Freedom Deals with Coherence in The Debian Project

(2004) (Make Corrections)


  • Author: Mattia Monga
  • Type/Discipline: Unknown
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • More Information/Link: Unknown


The Debian project aims at producing a software system with thousands of components running on eleven different hardware architectures, with three different operating system kernels. This paper describes the project and how the work of hundreds of people that never meet one with another can be..

Quality and the Reliance on Individuals in Free Software Projects



It has been suggested that the superior quality of many Free Software projects in comparison to their proprietary counterparts is in part due to the Free Software community's extensive source code peer-review process. While many argue that software is best developed by individuals or small teams, the process of debugging is highly parallizable. This "one and many" model describes a template employed by many Free Software projects. However, reliance on a single developer or maintainer creates a single point of failure that raises a number of serious quality and reliability concerns -- especially when considered in the context of the volunteer-based nature of most Free Software projects. This paper will investigate the nature of problems raised by this model within the Debian Project and will explore several possible strategies aimed at removing or de-emphasizing the reliance on individual developers.

The Social Production of Ethics in Debian and Free Software Communities: Anthropological Lessons for Vocational Ethics


Published in Free/Open Source Software Development published by Idea Group and edited by Stephan Koch.

Counting Potatos

Bibliographic Reference: Gonzalez-Barahona, J. M.; Perez, M. A. O.; Quiros, P. d. i. H.; Gonzalez, J. C.; and Olivera, V. M. Counting Potatoes: The Size of Debian 2.2, Upgrade Magazine, Vol. II, No. 6, (2001)

From Pigs To Stripes: A Travel Through Debian



The Debian GNU/Linux is one of today's most popular Linux-based distributions. It is intended not only for final users, but also as a basis for other projects which can build on top of it, as is the case of some well-known "live" distributions and meta-distributions. Since its beginnings, more than one decade ago, it has undergone many technical and organizational changes, while experimenting an spectacular growth. This paper is a study of the evolution of Debian GNU/Linux in time for the last five stable releases (from 2.0 to the upcoming 3.1 version). We show results for the size in packages of the different releases, the size in number of source lines of code, the importance of the various programming languages in which the software is written, the evolution of the number of developers. We also apply the COCOMO "classical" cost estimation model to the whole distribution, which can be considered as an first approximation of the effort (and cost) for creating the software in Debian from scratch, using traditional development models.