Facebook Picking Up the Pace on Its Open-Source Code Journey

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2015-02-20 Print this article Print
Facebook's Pearce

All that effort to make sure the code is solid occurs even before Facebook receives any contributions from the broader open-source community.

Managing Open Source

Pearce said there are a number of metrics he is able to use to measure how Facebook's open-source projects are doing in the community. Since most of the projects are on GitHub, the number of people watching any given project is one good measure of interest in the project. The average number of forks per project is another metric that Pearce tracks.

Pearce also tracks the ratio of external commits made by non-Facebook engineers to internal Facebook commits—another way to gauge interest and activity.

While Pearce's job responsibility includes overall management of Facebook's open-source efforts, he doesn't actually manage the individual developers.

"There are hundreds of employees that develop open source code at Facebook, and I have no management authority over any of them," he said.

Pearce has found that gamification works as a motivator for Facebook's open-source developers. He said he uses all the various open-source project metrics that he has available to play various teams and projects against each other in friendly competition.


Over the last 18 months, Facebook has also refocused its Linux kernel contribution efforts, according to Pearce. The emphasis at Facebook is on getting its changes contributed back to the upstream Linux kernel community, he added.

Facebook now has what Pearce refers to as a "proper" team with 12 developers on it to look after the company's Linux kernel contributions.

"The sheer talent of the team has enabled us to reboot our contributions and help improve things," he said.

Pearce added that Facebook moved from making six code commits to the Linux kernel in 2013 up to 229 code commits in 2014.

"The reason why we haven't open-sourced an operating system is because you already have one," Pearce told Linux Foundation Collaboration attendees. "We're really thrilled to work with you as a community because Linux makes all of this possible."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.


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