The making of open-source software

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Open-source software is used by millions, but many surfing with Firefox, typing into LibreOffice or loading Ubuntu onto their PCs have no idea how those programs were created.

It’s ironic, given open-source development is entirely transparent: every change is discussed in public, every commitment documented for prosperity, and future plans laid out for all to see.

However, to those outside the community of contributors, the gauntlet of mailing lists, project-specific jargon and organised chaos that marks open-source projects can make the entire process rather mysterious.

How does an army of volunteers combine to create a fully functioning product, and who are all these contributors?