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Report: Linux developer base up 10 percent since 2008

Linux is making money for a wide swath of companies, which is perhaps best reflected by their increased interest in developing the Linux kernel.

Linux may not represent the future of all computing, but it sure provides a compelling example of what a dedicated community can accomplish.

With over 1,000 developers actively working on the Linux kernel, representing some 200 different corporations, Linux is an exceptional example of the power of open-source communities, and also speaks to the value of groups like the Linux Foundation that help to shepherd it.

Jonathan Corbet, in conjunction with the Linux Foundation, has co-authored a report focused on who writes Linux code (PDF). I reported last month on a piece of the report's data.

As a reminder, Red Hat remains the top contributor to the Linux kernel, writing 12.3 percent of the kernel, though Intel (6.9 percent) is making a concerted effort to catch up.

Beyond these headline numbers, however, the Linux Foundation's report offers some intriguing data:

  • Since 2008, the number of individual developers has increased by 10 percent, "reflecting the ubiquity of Linux across industries," according to the report.
  • More than 70 percent of total contributions to the kernel come from "sponsored developers" (i.e., those paid to do Linux development by Red Hat, IBM, Novell, Intel, Oracle, and others).
  • 2.7 million lines of net-new lines of code have been added since April 2008, with an average of 10,923 lines of code added each day (nearly triple the rate in 2008). According to the Linux Foundation, this represents a "rate of change larger than any other public software project of any size."
  • Equally important as adding to the kernel's size, however, is the fact that an average of 5,547 lines are removed every day, keeping the code lean and relevant.
Linux Foundation

Clearly, the Linux kernel process is doing something right, given the amount of developers it is able to accommodate, without losing its quality advantages (or its customers). Importantly, expertise in Linux translates into a fatter paycheck, too: up to 50 percent bigger.

Small wonder, then, that Microsoft continues to fret about competition from Linux: competing with Linux effectively represents competing with the entire software and hardware industries...all at once.

Not even Redmond in its prime would want that fight.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.