Colliberate : The practices of free and open source software

Sammanfattning: This ethnography explores the inner workings of LibreOffice, a free and open source software project. It explores the practices that underlie the collaborative production of an office suite of software that can be shared, used, copied, modified and redistributed freely. Thereby this dissertation provides an insight into how ethical ideas, technical expertise and governance structures inform the practices that are used. Such an approach provides important access into the underbelly of software which is too often perceived as neutral infrastructure for digital media. The most important result of this dissertation is the explanation of a complex interplay of technology, political notions, community spirit, and governance mechanisms forms the basis for the collaborative practices to build software. Understanding software as a set of practices allows further investigations into digital media that can produce much needed knowledge about software which has become the infrastructure of everyday life.This study shows that software is not a technical expression but much more the result of a plethora of influences. It analyses a number of key topics: the practices that are activated – how people with different levels of skills and knowledge manage to establish a common way; the break of a community of collaborators with a major software company with the help of a standard technical practice; the complex entanglement of volunteers and economic interests of companies that contribute to the project; the differences within free and open source software - mostly expressed through licenses – that can sometimes result in open conflicts because of diverging perceptions of what freedom and / or openness means; and the role of a specific form of governance in a project that rests on an ideal notion of decentralization.