Who writes Linux? Almost 10,000 developers

In the latest report on who writes Linux, the answer comes to almost 10,000 programmers since 2005 and 1,100 in the last year alone.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

NEW ORLEANS: Who writes Linux? Perhaps the better question is who doesn't write it?

At LinuxCon, in New Orleans, The Linux Foundation revealed in its latest report "Linux Kernel Development: How Fast It is Going, Who is Doing It, What They Are Doing and Who is Sponsoring It." that the largest collaborative project in the history of computing is growing larger than ever with over 10,000 developers contributing to Linux in the last eight years.

Who Writes Linux Infographic Sept 2013

§  In particular, the Foundation found that: Nearly 10,000 developers from more than 1,000 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since tracking began in 2005. Just since the last report, more than 1,100 developers from 225 companies have contributed to the kernel. In fact, more developers and companies are contributing to Linux than ever before with Linuxkernel 3.10 seeing the most developer contributions ever.

§  Mobile and embedded companies are increasing their investments in Linux. Linaro, Samsung and Texas Instruments together increased their aggregate contributions from 4.4 percent during the previous version of the paper to 11 percent of all changes this year. Google’s contributions are also up significantly this year. In part that's because after years of fussing, Android is now completely integrated into mainstream Linux.

§  The Top 10 organizations sponsoring Linux kernel development since the last report include Red Hat, Intel, Texas Instruments, Linaro, SUSE, IBM, Samsung, Google, Vision Engraving Systems, Consultants and Wolfson Microelectronics.

After appearing on the top Linux developer list for the first time in 2012, Microsoft notably dropped off the list entirely this year. That's largely because Microsoft has done the work it needed to do to get Linux to work with Azure virtual machine technology.

§  The rate of Linux development continues to accelerate. The average number of changes accepted into the kernel per hour is 7.14, which translates to 171 changes every day and more than 1,200 per week.

 At that rate of change it's no surprise that while Linus Torvalds still directs Linux's development, he passed off a lot of the work of signing off on changes to the Linux kernel to his co-developers in recent years. Since the Linux 3.2 kernel, Torvalds has signed off on only 0.7 percent of all patches.  

"Linux represents the future of how new software and technologies will be built. Understanding how it’s developed is important to the industry," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation at LinuxCon. "This year’s Linux development report represents exponential growth in the community and its pace of development, illustrating how collaboration advances innovation."

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