When you work for the Linux Foundation you get a lot of questions on just how Linux is built. Given the massive scale of the development and ubiquity of Linux today, some of us in the community might think everyone understands how the largest collaborative project in computing works. How you submit a patch. How maintainers work with Linux creator Linus Torvalds. But because of Linux’s unprecedented growth in mobile, embedded and cloud computing, among other areas, new companies and developers are looking to participate. More than ever before, actually.
In our “Who Writes Linux” report published today at The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, we find that more than 7800 individuals from about 800 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since 2005 and that the rate of development continues to accelerate. The companies and developers contributing to the latest releases (since our last report, December 2010) represent a trend of success among organizations that invest in and contribute to the Linux.
Note the rankings of Texas Instruments, Broadcom and Samsung among the most active company sponsors of development since our last report. This just solidifies what we’ve been seeing over the last few years: more mobile and embedded companies are invested in Linux than every before. This helps make Linux better for all, and helps drive innovation for these companies. You will notice that there is change year to year of companies rising and falling within the ranks. This is a natural by-product of development cycles. As one project is merged, a company associated with it will rise in the ranks. This back and forth shows the strength of Linux: it’s not just the same companies year after year.
Lastly, Microsoft appears for the first time among the list companies contributing most to Linux. While this might garner headlines this week, we see this again as just another proof point that the collaborative development model works and that even the oldest holdouts can’t holdout anymore. The future is here.
To complement today’s report and officially kick off our 2012 Linux events season, we’re debuting a new video today titled “How Linux is Built.” We had a lot of fun producing it and we hope it helps illustrate the collaborative development model in a way that inspires even more contributions the Linux operating system.