Striving for greatness

Thoughts on emerging tech, open source, and life

[Gentoo] Compartmentalizing open-source development

Erich, indeed you’re right. You’re not the first one with this idea.

As long-time Gentoo developer George Shapovalov wrote on our private developers’ list:

There are scientific publications reporting existence of a “magical number” 😉 of people involved in a project that maximizes the efficiency. It is actually even stronger – you effectively cannot go over a certain number of people without restructuring. Here is the link to the primary paper:

In short: this is due to the way we are “wired” as species, so this is perceived a hard limit in a sense. The trustees are falling, by the nature of the stuff they do and how they communicate, into the “small group” region, and the magical numbers for that are 6-8, max 9. (That is maximum efficiency at ~7 and you cannot go over 9 (of actively participating people) realistically).

So, it’s pretty easy to do the math here. 350 > 9. Conclusion being that the large-scale gentoo-dev list is not the best way to develop — rather, smaller lists and projects are. But then, how does one accomplish anything project-spanning? Presumably by resorting to a republic, as Michael Cummings said, the decision could be made by a small enough group of people representative of Gentoo as a whole.


Written by Donnie Berkholz

August 24, 2006 at 11:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: