Who helps make Linux? Microsoft.

Who helps make Linux? Microsoft.

Summary: In the Linux Foundation's latest list of who contributes the most to building Linux, we find, besides the usual suspects -- Red Hat, Intel, and Novell -- Microsoft.

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Linux is made by corporations... including Microsoft.

Linux is made by corporations... including Microsoft.

Every year, The Linux Foundation compiles an analysis of who actually contributes the most to Linux's code (PDF Link). In the last year, 2011, besides the usual suspects, which includes Red Hat, Intel, Novell, IBM, Samsung, Oracle and Google, you'll also find some you didn't expect to see such from such as Nokia and, drum-roll please, Microsoft.

Microsoft has significantly contributed before to Linux. In the past though its main contributions have been to its own Hyper-V virtualization hypervisor drivers. Hyper-V is Microsoft's 64-bit hypervisor-based virtualization system. It's Microsoft's answer to VMware and Linux's own native Kernel-based Virtualization Manager (KVM).

Microsoft wants both Linux to run Server 2008 R2 instances and for Windows 2008 R2 to run Linux instances using its own virtualization tools. Microsoft has been working on this for some time with Novell, now SUSE. The results, according to Microsoft sources, have been outstanding.

According to The Linux Foundation, this is "the first time, Microsoft appears on list of companies that are contributing to the Linux kernel. Ranking at number 17, the company that once called Linux a 'cancer,' today is working within the collaborative development model to support its virtualization efforts and its customers. Because Linux has reached a state of ubiquity, in which both the enterprise and mobile computing markets are relying on the operating system, Microsoft is clearly working to adapt."

The top ten corporate contributors to Linux code by percentage of accepted code additions and changes are:

1. No company affiliation:17.9% 2. Red Hat: 11.9% 3. Novell/SUSE: 6.4% 4. Intel: 6.2% 5. IBM: 6.1% 6. Unknown: 5.1% 7. Consultant: 3.0% 8. Oracle: 2.1% 9. Academia: 1.3% 10. Nokia: 1.2%

While The top ten contributors, including the groups "unknown" and "none" make up over 60% of the total contributions to the kernel, the Foundation points out that even if you assume that "all of the 'unknown' contributors were working on their own time, over 75% of all kernel development is demonstrably done by developers who are being paid for their work."

The idea that Linux is a hobbyist operating system created by techies living in their parents' basements is a delusion. Linux's developers by and large are corporate programmers working for billion dollar companies such as Red Hat.

The Linux Foundation also pointed out that, "Samsung and Texas Instruments (TI), both of which are prominent mobile and embedded companies. In recent years, the level of participation from this sector has been growing rapidly. It is worth noting that these companies are not only adding more hardware support to the kernel, they are also taking more responsibility for the advancement of core kernel areas like the scheduler and memory management." With Android back in as an offical part of the mainline Linux kernel, we can expect to see Samsung, TI, and Google to become even bigger Linux kernel players in 2012.

If you look at who reviews the code and signs off on it, rather than just writing it, you'll find some very familiar names. Linux's top code gatekeepers include Greg Kroah-Hartman, David S. Miller, John W. Linville, Linus Torvalds, and Andrew Morton. The corporate affiliations are also a who's who of Linux companies. Here, you'll find Red Hat at the top with an amazing 37.7%, followed by Novell/SUSE with 13.4%.

"Linux is the platform for the future of computing. More developers and companies are contributing to the advancement of the operating system than ever before, especially in the areas of mobile, embedded and cloud computing," said Amanda McPherson, the Linux Foundation's VP of marketing and developer services,. "The increasing participation represents the power of Linux to quickly adapt to new market opportunities, lower costs, and provide sustained long-term support."

With everyone, including Microsoft, supporting Linux, I'd say she's right.

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Topics: Microsoft, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Virtualization

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46 comments
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  • Microsoft is trying to

    Poison the well. If they can sneak things into the Kernel, they can later sue for infringement. I believe this is the same tactic they've used against Android, because their mobile offerings are not worth the time it takes to pick up a phone.
    Jumpin Jack Flash
    • Wrong

      Microsoft's goals are:

      1. continue the relevance of Windows with Hyper-V
      2. provide interoperability demanded by its enterprise customers
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • wrong wrong

        1. there is no relevance of windows in hyper-v
        2. there is no interoperability with anything that microsoft does.
        deathtoms
    • paranoid and dillusional

      Let's see. If MS sneaks something in through their contributions, Microsoft be default comes under the GNU licensing agreement that states anything they contribute becomes part of the Open Source license agreement.

      It'd be awful hard to sue when you contribute and voluntarily come under the GNU license agreement.

      As for Android, MS didn't contribute anything to Android. Google simply took what they wanted and dumped it on the vendors to pay. Do a little homework and do try to keep up on the meds.
      Cynical99
      • Microsoft make money on Android, not Google

        If Microsoft 'didn't contribute anything to Android' then why do they receive $10 to $15 on each handset sold? Google gets zero.
        veggiedude
      • Google

        Veggie Dude, you misunderstand. Google isn't in the Hardware Business, nor are they in the Software Business. Google sells ads. Google makes over a Billion per year off of Android. From their viewpoint, it's much better than by handset, as Google makes that on a continuous basis.
        YetAnotherBob
      • veggiedude - MS makes money on Android

        because Google stole IP and included it in Android without permission. That means the vendors were left hanging with either a lawsuit or paying up.

        They paid up.

        By the way, they all have big legal departments that looked at the IP and recommended paying up. Google pays nothing because they don't actually use Android, just make it available.

        Now, go take your meds
        Cynical99
        • another lie from filthy microsoft propagandists...

          google didn't "take ip from anyone" because no one actually owns IP. maybe in usa somebody does but who cares.

          google decided to pay microsoft because it was blackmailed by nsa,
          microsoft is nothing without usa secret services, which made them big.

          if usa weren't fascist state, google wouldn't have to pay anything on this issue.
          deathtoms
      • because Google stole IP and included it in Android without permission.

        "By the way, they all have big legal departments that looked at the IP and recommended paying up"

        Please post your evidence on both those claims.
        guzz46
  • If its the platform of the future why does...

    Why does Microsoft Windows run on 92% of systems world wide, while Linux is just 0.98%?

    Just does not make sense for it to be the platform of the future.
    adacosta38
    • Why does Microsoft Windows run on 92%

      Competition is non existent. A copy of preinstalled Windows is not a commodity, you cannot freely return or resell it. Even if you buy a car bundled with a set of tires, you can resell the tires if you want to.
      eulampius
    • Sigh - numbers, bad numbers and worse numbers

      Those numbers come in the worse numbers format.

      It depends on what category you are talking about.

      Desktop - Linux probably hits a grand total of 2%
      Servers - Internet facing - pretty high
      Servers - behind firewalls - no one knows
      Linux on tablets - also known as Android - a whole lot higher than MS on tablets, but lower than Apple

      It all depends on the market. Linux does well in some markets but not others. Is it the platform of the future? I guess it depends on the market.
      Cynical99
      • You forgot smartphones, supercomputers and embedded systems

        nt
        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • It's "A" platform of the future

        not "THE". I'm quite satisfied with that.
        Michael Kelly
      • Rabit Howler - true

        It wasn't meant as a concise list, just enough to show adacosta38 that the numbers quoted are bad or worse.

        You are correct though, embedded systems, smartphones and supercomputers use Linux extensively.

        It's pervasive, and I'd say little understood by those outside those markets.

        Again, is Linux the platform of the future? Depends!
        Cynical99
    • RE: 92% of systems

      Based on the numbers you stated, your definition of "systems" seems to be very different from what others consider as "systems". Or are you just trying to lie ?
      mKind
    • more filthy lies from insane microsoft propaganda

      while ms is below 30% on all computers today, these creeps take stats from usa only and one platform only and than they push such a ridiculous claims like the one above.
      deathtoms
  • Whatever may be Microsoft's intent...

    I don't think that I would ever accept code donations from a company which considers me a 'cancer'. That would be like the USA allowing China to adjudicate laws for the federal government.

    Regards,
    Jon
    JonathonDoe
    • Code Is Vetted

      Microsoft's code is vetted before being included in the Kernel. So is Googles.

      Microsoft wants their code in the Kernel so that Windows Server will run better in a VM. Microsoft sells a lot of licenses that way.

      So you see, in spite of all the trolls say, Linux is good for Microsoft.
      YetAnotherBob
      • Actually

        The Hyper-V drivers in question allow Linux systems to take advantage of the VMBus when running under Hyper-V on Windows hosts. MS is trying to stay relevent in world being taken over by Linux.
        I know, I know, Windows has the majority of the shrinking Desktop market, but nothing else.
        anothercanuck