Linux kernel is the world’s largest shared technology that’s being created by thousands of individuals and hundreds of companies. Any guesses about how many individuals and companies are involved with the development of Linux?
Since the last report, which was released last year, more than 4,300 developers from more than 500 companies have contributed to the kernel.
We often hear that the kernel community is growing old and not many new people are joining. That seems to be wrong. Within the last year, out of these 4,300 contributors, around 1,670 were first timers. Contrary to popular belief, new people continue to contribute to the kernel.
Ever since Linux moved to Git, the version control system written by Linus Torvalds, more than 15,600 developers from more than 1,400 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel. We now know because Git makes it possible to track contributions.
Out of these 1400 companies, the top 10 commercial contributors include Red Hat, SUSE, Samsung, Google, Intel, Linaro, AMD, Renesas and Mellanox (not in any specific order).
Over the last few years, the number of unpaid developers has been decreasing, whereas the number of paid contributors is growing. What could explain that? Report after report shows that there is a huge gap between supply and demand of Linux skills. Due to the shortage of Linux talent, people get absorbed into companies very quickly. Those unpaid developers become paid developers. That said, there was a minor increase in the number of unpaid developers this year. In comparison to last year’s 7.7% contribution by unpaid developers, this year’s report listed 8.2% unpaid contributions. That’s significantly down from the 11.8% from 2014.
While the balance between unpaid and paid developers seem to be stabilizing, the overall number of developers and companies contributing to the kernel continues to grow.
What’s most incredible is that according to the report, the average number of changes accepted into the kernel per hour is 8.5, a significant increase from 7.8 changes per hour in the last report, which translates to 204 changes daily and over 1,400 weekly. The report noted that the 4.9 and 4.12 development cycles featured the highest patch rates ever seen in the history of the kernel project.
This year’s paper covers work completed through Linux kernel 4.13, with an emphasis on releases 4.8 to 4.13. The last report was released in August 2016 and focused on 3.19 to 4.7.