Forking: the Invisible Hand of Sustainability in Open Source Software

Linus Morten Nyman, Tommi Mikkonen, Juho Lindman, Martin Fougère

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The ability to create and maintain high-quality software artifacts that preserve their usability over time is one of the most essential characteristics of the software business. In such a setting, open source software offers excellent examples of sustainability. In particular, safeguarding mechanisms against planned obsolescence by any single actor are built into the very definition of open source development. The most powerful of these safeguarding mechanisms is the ability to fork the project as a whole. In this position paper, we argue that the possibility to fork any open source program serves as the invisible hand of sustainability, ensuring that the code can always remain open and that the code that best fulfills the needs of the community will live on.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of SOS 2011: Towards Sustainable Open Source : Towards Sustainable Open Source
EditorsImed Hammouda, Björn Lundell
Number of pages5
VolumeDepartment of Software Systems. Report 19
Place of PublicationTampere
PublisherTampere University of Technology
Publication date2011
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-2718-0
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventSOS 2011: Towards Sustainable Open Source Workshop - Salvador, Brazil
Duration: 08.10.201108.10.2011


  • 113 Computer and information sciences
  • KOTA2011


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