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

Posted February 7, 2014
“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.”

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