The Linux Kernel Development Report, which was recently released by The Linux Foundation, sheds light on various aspects of the development process as well as on who is doing the work. According to the report, more than 85 percent of all kernel development is done by developers who are being paid for their work. Additionally, the overall number of companies involved in working toward the improvement of the kernel is increasing, with the top 30 companies contributing to the Linux kernel shown in the table at right.

The report states:

What we see here is that a small number of companies is responsible for a large portion of the total changes to the kernel. But there is a “long tail” of companies (nearly 500 of which do not appear in the above list) which have made significant changes since the 4.7 release. There may be no other examples of such a large, common resource being supported by such a large group of independent actors in such a collaborative way.

Jens Axboe, Software Engineer at Facebook

In this article, Jens Axboe, Software Engineer at Facebook, answers a few questions about how and why he contributes to the Linux kernel.

The Linux Foundation: What role do you play in the community and what subsystem(s) do you work on?

Jens Axboe: I’m the Linux block layer maintainer, so I primarily develop features in that area, as well as help review and guide others doing the same.

The Linux Foundation: What have you been working on this year?

Axboe: This year, I contributed an IO scheduler framework for the block multiqueue subsystem, support for allowing applications to inform the kernel of life time of writes, and much faster IO accounting for blk-mq.   

Since 4.8, I have contributed about 200 patches. In terms of features, the most interesting, which are not mentioned above, are probably writeback throttling (blk-wbt), IO polling for fast devices (both classic and hybrid/efficient modes), and more efficient O_DIRECT.

The Linux Foundation: What do you think the kernel community needs to work on in the upcoming year?

Axboe: Attracting more young talent. Most young folks these days gravitate towards product instead of infrastructure. It’s important that we bring new talent into the fold.

The Linux Foundation: Why do you contribute to the Linux kernel?

Axboe: First of all, because I enjoy the work. It’s challenging and fun, plus there’s a personal gratification knowing that your code is running on billions of devices. Finally, it’s my job.

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.