More than 20 years ago, Linus Torvalds sparked an open source revolution with a short email declaring he was doing a new project “just for fun.” Today, Linux powers 98 percent of the world’s super computers, most of the servers powering the Internet, the majority of financial trades worldwide, and tens of millions of Android mobile phones and consumer devices. In short, Linux is everywhere.
Linux is the world’s most dominant operating system. Launched in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, it’s the quintessential example of user-led open source innovation, as it represented Linus’ desire for an operating system that he could run on his personal computer. Eventually the world took notice and everyone from hardware companies to emerging technology providers found themselves participating in the development of Linux and construction of solutions to run on top of the open source OS.
Between 2005 and 2015, over 11,800 individual developers from nearly 1,200 different companies contributed to the Linux kernel project, which has become a common, shared resource developed on a massive scale by companies who are otherwise fierce competitors in their industry segments.
Regular two-to-three month releases deliver stable updates to Linux users, adding significant new features, enhanced device support, and improved performance. The rate of change in the kernel has been historically high and continues to increase, with over 10,000 patches going into each recent kernel release. Each of these releases contains the work of over 1,400 developers representing over 200 corporations.