Linux Kernel Report: More Contributors Than Ever

By February 18, 2015Blog

Working with Jon Corbet and Greg Kroah-Hartman to produce the ‘Who Writes Linux’ report is one of the most important research projects we do, as it surfaces important data and trends that offer some insight into how the Linux kernel development process is going and informs collaborative development practices across the industry. As the world’s largest collaborative development project, Linux can teach us much.

What we’re learning from this year’s data is that there are more developers working on Linux than ever. More than 12,000 individuals have contributed to Linux since 2005 and more than 4,000 contributed in just the last 15 months. Nearly half of these recent developers are first-time contributors, which we think really represents the growing community of people supporting Linux.

We were also really pleased to see that the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW) Linux kernel interns ranked #13 on the top 20 list of contributors/sponsors of development work during this last cycle. We helped fund this work, along with Intel and Codethink, and are encouraged by the results.

It’s also worth noting that more developers than ever are paid for their work; a conservative calculation shows this number at 80 percent. Volunteer developers don’t stay that way for long, as companies continue to aggressively recruit the best Linux talent.

Perhaps all of these factors – more first-time contributors and more paid developers – are contributing to how fast Linux is built. More than 1,300 changes are made per week. That’s nearly eight changes an hour, or two every 15 minutes. In fact, Linux kernel 3.15 was the busiest development cycle in the kernel’s history.

More contributors than ever are contributing to Linux. For more detail behind this data, please make sure to check out this year’s report.