Linux Kernel Development report demonstrates continued effectiveness of collaborative development model, and growing participation in Linux including new developers, who continue to become in greater demand after 25 years

TORONTO, ON – LINUXCON + CONTAINERCON – AUGUST 22, 2016 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announced the immediate release of its 2016 report “Linux Kernel Development - How Fast It is Going, Who is Doing It, What They are Doing, and Who is Sponsoring It”. The report comes just days before the 25th anniversary of the initial release of the Linux kernel by Linus Torvalds on August 25, 1991, and analyzes the work done by over 13,500 developers over more than a decade, as well as more recent trends.

This is the seventh such report that is released on a roughly annual basis to help illustrate the Linux kernel development process and the work that defines the largest collaborative project in the history of computing. This year’s paper covers work completed through Linux kernel 4.7, with an emphasis on releases 3.19 to 4.7. The last report was released March 2015 and focused on 3.11 to 3.18.

Key findings from this year’s paper include:

  • Over 13,500 developers from more than 1,300 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since the adoption of Git made detailed tracking possible. Since the last report, just shy of 5,000 developers from 400 companies have contributed to the kernel; nearly half of these developers contributed for the first time.

  • The Top 10 organizations sponsoring Linux kernel development since the last report include Intel, Red Hat, Linaro, Samsung, SUSE, IBM, Renesas, Google, AMD, Texas Instruments and ARM. The Outreachy program, which provides open source internships to underrepresented groups, ranks #13 for contributions to the Linux kernel during this last cycle with the interns contributing 1.4 percent of the patches since Linux kernel 3.18. The complete top 30 contributing organizations can be seen in the full report.

  • The rate of Linux development continues to increase, as does the number of developers and companies involved in the process. The average number of changes accepted into the kernel per hour is 7.8, up from 7.71 in the last report, which translates to 187 changes every day and nearly 1,310 per week. The average days of development per release remained steady at 66 days, with every release spaced either 63 or 70 days apart, providing significant predictability.

  • The number of unpaid developers continues its slow decline, as Linux kernel development proves an increasingly valuable skill sought by employers, ensuring experienced kernel developers do not stay unpaid for long. The volume of contributions from unpaid developers in the period covered by this report has fallen to 7.7% from 11.8% in 2014.

The report is co-authored by Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel developer and editor of LWN.net, and Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux kernel maintainer and Linux Foundation fellow.

“Even after 25 years, Linux still serves as an example of how collaborative development can work, which can be applied to other open source projects,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation. “This report provides insight into the development trends and methodologies used by thousands of different individuals collectively to create some of the most important software code on the planet.”

To download the full report, please visit The Linux Foundation’s Publication’s website at: http://go.linuxfoundation.org/rd-2016-linux-kernel-report-pr.

The paper is being released today at LinuxCon + ContainerCon North America, hosted by The Linux Foundation. LinuxCon is where developers, sys admins, architects and all types and levels of technical talent gather together under one roof for education, collaboration and problem-solving to further the Linux platform. ContainerCon expands upon the Linux Foundation’s success in Linux by bringing together leaders in the development and deployment of containers, the Linux kernel, to continue to innovate on the delivery of open source infrastructure. For more information or to access the live streaming video, please visit: http://events.linuxfoundation.org/events/linuxcon-north-america.

Additional Resources

Infographic

Video: Greg Kroah-Hartman: Linux Kernel Development - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmu0pkSI5sw

About The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation is the organization of choice for the world's top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption. Together with the worldwide open source community, it is solving the hardest technology problems by creating the largest shared technology investment in history. Founded in 2000, The Linux Foundation today provides tools, training and events to scale any open source project, which together deliver an economic impact not achievable by any one company. More information can be found at www.linuxfoundation.org.

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