TNIT Mimeo, 2006
This paper looks at how open source software is developed.
Economic theory shows that open source software can be effectively developed by altruistic volunteers, but the business model will not always succeed.
Open source software lets users change code to suit their needs; open source code under the General Public License (GPL) must be distributed free. Open source has often been produced by volunteers.
Volunteer software developers might be motivated by altruism, either because they enjoy making code better, or because they want to help software users.
Open source software users need support to help them solve problems with the code. This support can be provided by other users.
Open source projects will often move forward only with a core group of dedicated developers and a critical mass of end users will to support other users.
Volunteer-supported open source projects might not move forward if competing products cut prices to attract the critical mass of users away, or tempt developers away.