Linux Foundation Survey Confirms Professionalism of Linux Kernel

Apr 01, 2008

A recent survey by the Linux Foundation (LF) on Linux kernel development shows that the number of kernel developers has tripled in the last three years. In most cases the developers' work is funded by corporate sponsorship.

The report investigates the people and organizations behind kernel development and was written by kernel developers Jonathan Corbet and Greg Kroah-Hartman with support from the Foundation's Head of Marketing, Amanda McPherson. The authors investigated three years of kernel history, from Linux Version 2.6.11 to 2.6.24, and describe the development process and its contributors. Their conclusion is that both the number of developers and the number of companies supporting kernel development has increased dramatically. Around 1000 developers employed by over 100 different companies work on each kernel version. The report reveals that the number of developers has tripled since 2005. The authors see this as an accurate reflection of the increased importance of Linux as an embedded platform, on servers and on the desktop market. “Never before in the history of computing have there been so many companies, users and developers united behind one project, specifically one that has seen so much commercial success,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation.

In its survey the LF reveals that between 70 and 95 percent of all developers are paid for their work. This revelation shoots down the myth of Linux being an operating system programmed by amateurs. More than 70% of all work on the Linux kernel is financed by IBM, the Linux Foundation, chip manufacturers Intel and MIPS Technology, embedded vendor Montavista, NetApp, and the Linux distributors Novell and Red Hat. Some 3621 lines of code are added to the kernel tree every day, and a new kernel is released every 2.7 months on average. Since 2005, the kernel has grown continuously by ten percent per year. "This is the foundation for the largest distributed software development project in the world.", say the non-profit organization proudly.

The report titled "Linux Kernel Development: How Fast is it Going, Who is doing it and Who is Sponsoring it?" is available for downloading free of charge from the LF website .

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