Majority of Linux Code Written by Paid Developers

If it weren't already clear that Linux is taking on a major role in the enterprise, consider the fact that the majority of contributions to the Linux kernel are coming from developers paid for their work. Seventy-five percent of code contributions to the Linux kernel between December 24, 2008 and January 10, 2010, came from people paid to do it by a range of companies including Red Hat, Novell and IBM, Jonathan Corbet, editor of and lead author of the book "Linux Device Drivers," tells LinuxLine.

"Some people still have this view of Linux as something that kids write in their basements and that is very much not the case. Linux is the product of professionals who have simply chosen to work together in a different way," says Corbet who has been following this aspect of Linux development for some time. This most recent examination of Linux contributions is a follow-on to a 2009 report done by Corbet; Greg Kroah-Hartman, a Novell Fellow, working for the SUSE labs division of the company; and Amanda McPherson, vice president of marketing and developer programs at The Linux Foundation.

"It certainly debunks any myth that it is the product of amateurs," Corbet observes. "Linux is produced by professionals and certainly users can rest assured that not only is there a Fortune 500 company behind it, but there are several of them." In fact, says Corbet, while the percentage of code written by paid developers has increased over the time he has been evaluating it, that has been mainly due to a decrease of code contributors for whom the corporate affiliation simply was not known.

Companies are involved with Linux because they see advantages. "It allows them to leverage the vast amount of work that has been done by the rest of the community," Corbet notes. "A lot of the code comes from hardware companies for example who can, with a minimal amount of effort, have a very functional operating system working with their hardware and so they very much like to do that. Other companies such as distributors contribute to it because it improves the product that they can then offer to their customers."

For more information on the August 2009 study, "Linux Kernel Development: How Fast it is Going, Who is Doing It, What They are Doing, and Who is Sponsoring It?" go here.