Quo Vadis, Open Source? The Limits of Open Source Growth

08/18/2020
by   Michael Dorner, et al.
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Open source software plays a significant role in the software industry. Prior work described open source to be growing polynomially or even exponentially. However, such growth cannot be sustained infinitely given finite resources. In this study, we present the results of four accumulated measurements on size and growth of open source considering over 224,000 open source projects for the last 25 years. For each of those projects, we measured lines of code, commits, contributors and lifecycle state over time, which reproduces and replicates the measurements of three well-cited studies. We found the number of active open source projects has been shrinking since 2016 and the number of contributors and commits has decreased from a peak in 2013. Open source – although initially growing at exponential rate – is not growing anymore. We believe it has reached saturation.

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