Who’s Writing Linux?

Corporations are paying for the world's most famous free operating system

2 min read

Who’s Writing Linux?
Illustration: mckibillo

Illustration by MCKibillo\u2029Illustration: MCKIBILLO

About once a year, the Linux Foundation analyzes the online repository that holds the source code of the kernel, or core, of the Linux operating system. As well as tracking the increasing complexity of the ever-evolving kernel over a series of releases from versions 3.0 to 3.10, the report also reveals who is contributing code, and the dominant role corporations now play in what began as an all-volunteer project in 1991.

Who’s Paying the Bills?

02DataFlowBillsWhile volunteer contributors still represent a plurality among developers, over 80 percent of code is contributed by people who are paid for their work. The Linux Foundation notes that contributions have been increasing from companies that make mobile and embedded systems, such as Linaro, Samsung, and Texas Instruments.

The Gatekeepers

02DataFlowGatekeeperContributions from individual developers must have sign-offs before being incorporated into the official kernel code. Here corporate employees truly dominate, with just over 5 percent of approvals by volunteers.

The Authors

02DataFlowAuthorThese are the programmers who have contributed the most code updates to versions 3.2 through 3.10.

The Growing Kernel

02DataFlowKernelThe increasing size of the Linux kernel is due to the incorporation of significant new features, including a file system optimized for solid-state drives and support for the 64-bit ARM microprocessors used in embedded and mobile devices.

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