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

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

New report reveals trends in Linux development since April 2008 and hints at discussion points for LinuxCon Kernel Panel

SAN FRANCISCO – August 19, 2009 — The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced it is publishing an update to its April 2008 study on Linux kernel development. The new report is written by original authors and kernel developers Jonathan Corbet and Greg Kroah-Hartman, and the Linux Foundation’s Amanda McPherson.

The August 2009 Update reprises the title “Linux Kernel Development: How Fast is it Going, Who is doing it and Who is Sponsoring it?” and is available today for download. This community paper illustrates a large and distributed developer and corporate community that supports the expansion and innovation of Linux. The Linux kernel has become a common resource developed on a massive scale by companies who are fierce competitors in other areas.

The updated study finds that since April 2008, there has been a 10 percent increase in the number of developers contributing to each kernel release and that a net of 2.7 million lines of code have been added. This level of activity has resulted in an average of 5.45 patches being accepted per hour, an increase of 42 percent since the original study. Some of the accelerated pace of development can be attributed to new demand for Linux in emerging markets, such as netbooks, auto and energy, as well as to the establishment of the new linux-next tree (a staging area for the next kernel cycle that enables the development process to scale more rapidly).

Corbet and Kroah-Hartman will participate on a panel at LinuxCon (http://events.linuxfoundation.org/events/linuxcon) which will be focused on the kernel development process and which will explore some of the trends surfaced in the new study. Linux creator Linus Torvalds and kernel community members James Bottomley, Arjan van de Ven and Chris Wright will join them on the keynote panel Monday, September 21, 2009 at 2 p.m. PT.

Corbet and Kroah-Hartman, also members of the Linux Foundation’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB), reviewed the last six kernel releases, from 2.6.24 through 2.6.30, representing about 500 days of Linux development. 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 200 different corporations. This is the foundation for the largest distributed software development project in the world.
o Since 2008, the number of individual developers has increased by 10 percent, reflecting the ubiquity of Linux across industries.

• 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 Red Hat, IBM, Novell, Intel, Oracle, Fujitsu, among many others. These companies, and many others, find that by improving the kernel they have a competitive edge in their markets.
o Red Hat, Google, Novell, Intel and IBM top the list of companies that employ developers who are reviewing and approving Linux development.

• How Fast is Linux Developed and Released?
o A net of 2.7 million lines of code have been added since April 2008.
o An average of 10,923 lines of code are added a day, representing a rate of change larger than any other public software project of any size.
o An average of 5,547 lines are removed every day, ensuring that the code is high quality and relevant for the most important implementations of the kernel.

”This paper shows that the pace of Linux development continues to grow, with more individuals and more companies supporting Linux kernel development with every release cycle,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “With the increasing use of Linux in new markets and the dedication of the development community and corporate sponsors, the number of contributors will continue to grow, ensuring a vibrant ecosystem to support the platform.”

Jonathan Corbet is also the editor of Linux information source LWN.net (www.lwn.net) and maintains the Linux Foundation’s Linux Weather Forecast (http://www.linuxfoundation.org/collaborate/lwf).

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 USB, driver core, debugfs, kref, kobject, and the sysfs kernel subsystems, and leads the Linux Driver Project: www.linuxdriverproject.org.

Amanda McPherson is vice president of marketing and developer programs at the Linux Foundation and leads its community relations, web, content and event activities. Her blog: http://www.linux-foundation.org/weblogs/amanda/.

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 hosting important workgroups, events and online resources such as Linux.com. For more information, please visit the Linux Foundation website.

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