In the last few years, open source (OS) software development has become a viable alternative to commercial software. OS developers form virtual teams and the goal of this study is to examine the viability of the projects as organizational forms. We draw from the population ecology literature and propose that such factors as project reliability, size, age, and niche focus will be related to the survival of OS projects. Specifically, the purpose of this research is to test the applicability of some basic theorems of population ecology to open source projects. In this research we focus on short-term survival of OS projects. If the population ecology paradigm is useful, we can expand our analyses. The study uses archival project data available at SourceForge to test the theoretical propositions.