The Linux managing model

Federico Iannacci


This study focuses on the distinguishing traits of the Linux managing model. It introduces the concept of process to capture the idea of impermanence, dissolvability and change. Far from being a predictable flow of programming, assembling and releasing activities, it is suggested that the Linux development process displays a stream of activities that keep feeding back into each other, thus creating a complex and unpredictable outcome. The paper further introduces the concept of contingent response patterns to investigate the interaction flows occurring on the Linux mailing lists and subsume patch postings, bug reports and the associated reviewing and debugging activities under its umbrella. The enactment-selection-retention (ESR) model is subsequently brought forward to conceptualize this process as enactment of programming skills subject to selection activities conducted by Torvalds who retains the selected features and feeds them back to the developerso pool to undergo further enactment activities. Key managerial decisions concerning portability and modularity are, subsequently, analyzed through the lenses of the ESR model to show that Linux features an unconventional decision-making process whereby decisions follow rather than precede actions. Finally, Torvaldso beliefs are investigated in the Bitkeeper context to argue that the Linux managing model leans toward adaptability rather than adaptation.

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