“Who Writes Linux” report surfaces important trends in the world’s largest collaborative development project: fastest pace of development to date, more first-time contributors than ever before 

SANTA ROSA – LINUX FOUNDATION COLLABORATION SUMMIT – February 18, 2015 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced the immediate release of its 2015 report “Linux Kernel Development: How Fast It is Going, Who is Doing It, What They Are Doing and Who is Sponsoring It.”

This is the sixth 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 3.18, with an emphasis on releases 3.11 to 3.18. The last report was released September 2013 and focused on 3.3 to 3.10.

Key findings from this year’s paper include:

  • Nearly 12,000 developers from more than 1,200 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since tracking began 10 years ago. Just since the last report, more than 4,000 developers from 200 companies have contributed to the kernel, half of whom contributed for the first time.
  • The Top 10 organizations sponsoring Linux kernel development since the last report include Intel, Red Hat, Linaro, Samsung, IBM, SUSE, Texas Instruments, Vision Engraving Systems, Google and Renesas. It’s worth noting that the FOSS Outreach Program for Women ranks #13 for contributions to the Linux kernel during this last cycle with the interns contributing 1.5 percent of the patches to Linux kernel 3.11. The complete top 20 contributing organizations can be seen in the full report.
  • The rate of Linux development is unmatched; in fact, Linux kernel 3.15 was the busiest development cycle in the kernel’s history. This rate of change 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 7.71, which translates to 185 changes every day and nearly 1,300 per week. The average days of development per release decreased from 70 days to 66 days.
  • The number of paid developers is on the rise, as companies aggressively recruit top Linux talent. More than 80 percent of kernel development is done by developers who are being paid for their work. Volunteer developers tend not to stay that way for long.

The report is co-authored by Jon Corbet, Linux kernel developer and editor of LWN.net; Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux kernel maintainer and Linux Foundation fellow; and Amanda McPherson, chief marketing officer at The Linux Foundation.

“As the largest collaborative development project in history, Linux can offer a lot of insight on software development trends and methodologies,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “The ‘Who Writes Linux’ report gives us a close look at how rapid development supported by thousands of individuals and hundreds of companies can result in the best software in the world.”

To download the full report, please visit The Linux Foundation’s Publication’s website at: https://www.linuxfoundation.org/publications/linux-foundation/who-writes-linux-2015

The paper is being released today at The Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit in Santa Rosa. The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit is a unique, invitation only event that gathers Linux Foundation members, open source developers, open source legal experts and community experts to collaborate and solve many of the most pressing issues facing open source software and Linux today. It is also the place that brings together The Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects and workgroups to meet and work more broadly with other community leaders. For more information or to access the live streaming video, please visit: http://events.linuxfoundation.org

About The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux and collaborative software development. Founded in 2000, the organization sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and promotes, protects and advances the Linux operating system and collaborative software development by marshaling the resources of its members and the open source community. The Linux Foundation provides a neutral forum for collaboration and education by hosting Collaborative Projects, Linux conferences, including LinuxCon (and CloudOpen?), and generating original research and content that advances the understanding of Linux and collaborative software development. More information can be found at www.linuxfoundation.org.


Trademarks: The Linux Foundation, Linux Standard Base, MeeGo, OpenDaylight, Tizen, and Yocto Project are trademarks of The Linux Foundation. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds.


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