The Linux world makes much of its community roots, but when it comes to developing the kernel of the operating system, it’s less a case of “volunteers ahoy!” and more a case of “where’s my pay?”
During a presentation at Linux.conf.au 2010 in Wellington, LWN.net founder and kernel contributor Jonathan Corbet offered an analysis of the code contributed to the Linux kernel between December 24 2008 and January 10 2010. (The kernel serves as a basis from which individual distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian or Red Hat are developed, though these will often add or remove specific features.)
A massive amount of coding went on in that period: 2.8 million lines of code and 55,000 major changes were contributed to the kernel, which evolved from version 2.6.28 to 2.6.32 over that time. “The development process is clearly quite alive and quite active,” Corbet said, noting that this amount to more than 7,000 lines of code added every day
The most striking aspect of the analysis, however, was where those lines of code originated from. 18% of contributions to the kernel were made without a specific corporate affiliation, suggesting true volunteer efforts.
An additional 7% weren’t classified. The remainder were from people working for specific companies in roles where developing that code was a major requirement. “75% of the code comes from people paid to do it,” Corbet said.