Floss development and peer governance: the case of the Gnome desktop environment

Agustín Zanotti, Juan Gabriel Vélez


Objective of the study: The article analyzes the case of GNOME, one of the most popular Free/ Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects, started in 1997. The concept of peer governance describes the interaction and convergence of companies, foundations, voluntary users and professionals in its development.
Methodology/ approach: The research is based on the documentary method and an organizational history approach. For this, primary and secondary digital sources were collected: institutional and FLOSS sites, blogs, community lists, documents and platforms.
Originality/ Relevance: The work allows progress, from a sociotechnical perspective, in understanding FLOSS developments and the coevolution of their technical components and community dynamics.
Main results: Three levels of governance are identified: 1. the software itself; 2. the community; 3. the ecosystem. Development cycles; community participation and organization; actors and business models, definitions and controversies, are analyzed. GNOME's trajectory is marked by the confluence of interests and coopetition between corporate actors and the FLOSS ecosystem. The life cycle shows a constant activity, which implies redefinition of its components, technological infrastructure and leadership. It is not exempt from controversies and bifurcations, similar to those evidenced in projects of this type.
Theoretical/ methodological contributions: It contributes to the concept of peer governance and its usefulness for case analysis. Reflection on data sources and research resources on the Internet is promoted.
Social/ managerial contributions: It contributes to the understanding of new forms of management and decision-making in technological development projects.


Floss; Software development; Community; Ecosystem; Governance.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5585/iji.v8i3.17114


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