Linux Kernel Report

The 2017 Linux Kernel Report illustrates the kernel development process and highlights the work of some of the dedicated developers creating the largest collaborative project in the history of computing.

Roughly 15,600 developers from more than 1,400 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since 2005, when the adoption of Git made detailed tracking possible, according to the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report released at the Linux Kernel Summit in Prague.

This report — co-authored by Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel developer and editor of LWN.net, and Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux kernel maintainer and Linux Foundation fellow — illustrates the kernel development process and highlights the work of some of the dedicated developers who are creating the largest collaborative project in the history of computing.

Jens Axboe, Linux block maintainer and software engineer at Facebook, contributes to the kernel because he enjoys the work. “It’s challenging and fun, plus there’s a personal gratification knowing that your code is running on billions of devices,” he said.

The 2017 report covers development work completed through Linux kernel 4.13, with an emphasis on releases 4.8 to 4.13. During this reporting period, an average of 8.5 changes per hour were accepted into the kernel; this is a significant increase from the 7.8 changes seen in the previous report.

Here are other highlights from the report:

  • Since the last report, more than 4,300 developers from over 500 companies have contributed to the kernel.
  • 1,670 of these developers contributed for the first time — about a third of contributors.
  • The most popular area for new developers to make their first patch is the “staging tree,” which is a place for device drivers that are not yet ready for inclusion in the kernel proper.
  • The top 10 organizations sponsoring Linux kernel development since the last report are Intel, Red Hat, Linaro, IBM, Samsung, SUSE, Google, AMD, Renesas, and Mellanox.

Kernel developer Julia Lawall, Senior Researcher at Inria, works on the Coccinelle tool that’s used to find bugs in the Linux kernel. She contributes to the kernel for many reasons, including “the potential impact, the challenge of understanding a huge code base of low-level code, and the chance to interact with a community with a very high level of technical skill.”

You can learn more about the Linux kernel development process and read more developer profiles in the full report. Download the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report now.