Linux Foundation Publishes Study on Linux Development Statistics: Who Writes Linux and Who Supports It

Linux Foundation Publishes Study on Linux Development Statistics: Who Writes Linux and Who Supports It

A close look at Linux kernel development process reveals the number of Linux kernel developers has tripled over the last three years

SAN FRANCISCO – April 1, 2008 — The Linux Foundation (LF), the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced it is publishing a new report written by kernel developers Jonathan Corbet and Greg Kroah-Hartman, and LF Director of Marketing Amanda McPherson.

The report titled “Linux Kernel Development: How Fast is it Going, Who is doing it and Who is Sponsoring it?” is available today at https://www.linux-foundation.org/publications/linuxkerneldevelopment.php. The paper finds that over the last three years the number of developers contributing to the kernel has tripled and that there has been a significant increase in the number of companies supporting kernel development.

Even though Linux has achieved near-ubiquity as a technology platform powering Internet applications, corporate servers, embedded and mobile devices and desktops, mainstream users know very little about how Linux is actually developed. This community paper exposes those dynamics and describes a large and distributed developer and corporate community that supports the expansion and innovation of the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel has become a common resource developed on a massive scale by companies who are fierce competitors in other areas.

Corbet and Kroah-Hartman, key kernel developers themselves and members of the Linux Foundation’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB), reviewed nearly three years of kernel history representing Linux releases 2.6.11 through 2.6.24. The report goes into detail on how the Linux development process works, including who is contributing, how often and why.

Highlights include:

• Who is Writing Linux?
o Every Linux kernel is being developed by nearly 1,000 developers working for more than 100 different corporations. This is the foundation for the largest distributed software development project in the world.
o Since 2005, the number of active kernel developers has tripled, reflecting the growing importance of Linux in the embedded systems, server, and desktop markets.
o Between 70 and 95 percent of those developers are being paid for their work, dispelling the “hobbyist” myth present from the start of open source development.

• Who is Sponsoring Linux?
o More than 70 percent of total contributions to the kernel come from developers working at a range of companies including IBM, Intel, The Linux Foundation, MIPS Technology, MontaVista, Movial, NetApp, Novell and Red Hat. These companies, and many others, find that by improving the kernel they have a competitive edge in their markets.

• How Fast is Linux Developed and Released?
o An average of 3,621 lines of code are added to the kernel tree every day, and a new kernel is released approximately every 2.7 months.
o The kernel, since 2005, has been growing at a steady state of 10 percent per year.

“Never before in the history of computing have there been so many companies, users and developers united behind one project, specifically one that has seen so much commercial success,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “This rate of innovation is unsurpassed in software. We’re pleased to publish this valuable community content from members of our Technical Advisory Board.”

The Linux Foundation’s TAB is comprised of leading Linux developers who advise the LF on technical requirements and issues important to the kernel community. Kernel community members James Bottomley, Jonathan Corbet, Dave Jones, Christoph Lameter, Ted Ts’o, Chris Wright, and others will participate in a panel on the State of Linux at the LF’s Collaboration Summit next week. For more information on the Summit, please visit: https://www.linux-foundation.org/events/collaboration.

Jonathan Corbet is also the editor of Linux information source LWN.net and maintains the Linux Foundation’s Linux Weather Forecast.

Greg Kroah-Hartman is a Novell Fellow, working for the SuSE labs division of the company. He is also the Linux kernel maintainer for the PCI, USB, driver core, debugfs, kref, kobject, and the sysfs kernel subsystems, and leads the Linux Driver Project: www.linuxdriverproject.org.

Amanda McPherson is director of marketing at the LF and leads its promote and community-relations activities.

About the Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux. Founded in 2007, the Linux Foundation sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and is supported by leading Linux and open source companies and developers from around the world. The Linux Foundation promotes, protects and standardizes Linux by providing unified resources and services needed for open source to successfully compete with closed platforms. For more information, please visit www.linux-foundation.org.

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Trademarks: The Linux Foundation and Linux Standard Base are trademarks of The Linux Foundation. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. Third party marks and brands are the property of their respective holders.