Foundation report looks at the who-and-what behind Linux

February 4, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

( —"Who writes Linux? Corporations, more than ever," said InfoWorld's story headline on Monday. Out of all the highlights of the Linux Foundation's latest Linux Kernel Development report, the corporate angle sang out as noteworthy, dispelling an old notion that Linux, the historic shining star of open source endeavor, is brought to you courtesy of impoverished programmers in post-midnight dens cranking out development work for free, and for the mere spirit of it all. The report, fully titled "Linux Kernel Development: How Fast It is Going, Who is Doing It, What They are Doing, and Who is Sponsoring It," is the fifth update of this ongoing development story, which has been published since 2008. An increasing number of companies are working toward the improvement of the kernel.

"Over 80 percent of all kernel development is demonstrably done by developers who are being paid for their work." As interesting, the report said the volume of contributions from unpaid developers has been in slow decline for many years. Active players from the corporate pack include, among others, Red Hat, Intel, Google, SUSE, Samsung, Texas Instruments and IBM.

ExtremeTech said big companies have a commercial interest in the continued good health of Linux. "Ten years ago, Linux was the plaything of hobbyists and supercomputer makers—today, it powers everything from smartphones (Android) to wireless routers to set-top boxes."

Contributions from the mobile and embedded industries, meanwhile, continue to increase. According to the report, "Linaro, Samsung, and TI, for example, together contributed 4.4 percent of the changes in the previous version of this paper; for the period up to 3.10, they contributed almost 11 percent of all changes."

Linaro is an engineering organization focused on Linux software and tools for the ARM architecture. (Last year, Shawn Powers, associate editor, Linux Journal wrote: "Much like 'cloud' computing, 'embedded' computing has a fairly flexible definition. One thing is certain, however, and that is that Linux is perfect for the embedded world, however you define it. With its breathtaking variety of hardware support and unassuming happiness living behind the scenes, the embedded market may be the vehicle Linux finally uses to take over the world.")

The Linux Foundation report noted that "Almost 92,000 changesets have been merged from 3,738 individual developers representing 536 corporations (that we know about)," .

New features merged into the mainline, said the report, have included full tickless operation, user namespaces, Xen virtualization for ARM, 64-bit ARM architecture support, and two independent subsystems for fast caching for block storage devices.

The report is authored by Jonathan Corbet, editor,, a news and information source, Greg Kroah-Hartman, and Amanda McPherson, both from The Linux Foundation. LWN, initially, was "Linux Weekly News." "That name has been deemphasized over time," said the site, "as we have moved beyond just the weekly coverage, and as we have looked at the free software community as a whole." Kroah-Hartman, Linux Foundation fellow, is among a group of developers that maintain Linux at the kernel level. McPherson is vice president, marketing and developer programs.

Explore further: Linux Kernel to Add VMI

More information: Linux Kernel Development:

Related Stories

Linux Kernel to Add VMI

March 27, 2007

The next stable update to the Linux kernel, Version 2.6.21, is slated to include a new feature submitted by VMware called Virtual Machine Interface.

Linux Foundation takes Linux pulse in progress report

April 5, 2012

( -- A white paper updating 2011 highlights and progress in Linux kernel development has been released by The Linux Foundation, the vendor-neutral base for collaborations on the Linux kernel. "Linux Kernel Development: ...

Linux and Intel 386 processors will part ways

December 14, 2012

(—Earlier this week Linus Torvalds took away support for 386 CPUs from the Linux kernel. He agreed with the position of Red Hat engineer and Linux kernel developer Ingo Molnar to drop support for Intel's old 386 ...

IBM to invest $1b in Linux, open-source

September 17, 2013

IBM said Tuesday it would invest $1 billion in new Linux and open source technologies for its servers in a bid to boost efficiency for big data and cloud computing.

Recommended for you

Robo-whiskers mimic animals exploring their surroundings

August 4, 2015

Many mammals, including seals and rats, rely on their whiskers to sense their way through dark environments. Inspired by these animals, scientists working at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois' Advanced ...

Thunderstrike 2: Proof-of-concept worm could infect Macs

August 4, 2015

Two researchers, Xeno Kovah co-founder of LegbaCore and Trammell Hudson, a security engineer with Two Sigma Investments, have created a proof of concept worm capable of attacking Mac computers. The worm which they designed ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Lex Talonis
not rated yet Feb 04, 2014
Linux is the best OS software in the world.

It's why I use it.

I am just so grateful that I can stomp all over microsoft before booting their bullshit into the bin.

not rated yet Feb 04, 2014
Are you then a hero? Gotta love all those Linux apps.
not rated yet Feb 04, 2014
Yet many of those projects began as hobbyist or research efforts. The commercial code is often the 10th or 20th generation

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.