Over the last few decades, we’ve seen Linux steadily grow and become the most widely used operating system kernel. From sensors to supercomputers, we see it used in spacecraft, automobiles, smartphones, watches, and many more devices in our everyday lives. Since the Linux Foundation started publishing the Linux Kernel Development Reports in 2008, we’ve observed progress between points in time.
Since that original 1991 release, Linux has become one of the most successful collaborations in history, with over 20,000 contributors. Given the recent announcement of version 5.8 as one of the largest yet, there’s no sign of it slowing down, with the latest release showing a new record of over ten commits per hour.
In this report, we look at Linux’s entire history. Our analysis of Linux is based on early releases, and the developer community commits from BitKeeper and git since the first Kernel release on September 17, 1991, through August 2, 2020. With the 5.8 release tagging on August 2, 2020, and with the merge window for 5.9 now complete, over a million commits of recorded Linux Kernel history are available to analyze from the last 29 years.
This report looks back through the history of the Linux kernel and the impact of some of the best practices and tooling infrastructure that has emerged to enable one of the most significant software collaborations known.