Open Source

Where does that kernel code come from?

Who contributes the Linux kernel code? If you've ever wondered about this, you might be surprised by the breakdown of contributors. Here's a summary and a link to a full analysis from the Linux Foundation.

If you've ever wondered about the breakdown of where the Linux kernel code actually comes from, I found a report from that sums up a recent analysis.

During a recent presentation at a Linux conference in Australia, code contributor and founder of, Johnathan Corbet focused on code contributed between December 2008 and January 2010. Of 2.8 million lines of code and 55,000 changes in that time, here are the numbers:

  • 18% code contributed by volunteers with no corporate affiliation
  • 7% unclassified contributors (I'm not sure who this would be?)
  • 75% from paid developers

Of the corporate contributors:

  • Red Hat with 12%,
  • Intel with 8%
  • IBM and Novell with 6% each
  • Oracle 3%

Do any of these numbers surprise you? It pretty much dispels the notion of Linux being the product of a bunch of selfless eggheads working from their basements, if that still persists.

If you'd like to look at a full report from the Linux Foundation, the most current one was published in August 2009. You can download a PDF copy of "Linux Kernel Development: How Fast it is Going, Who is Doing It, What They are Doing, and Who is Sponsoring It" from the Foundation's Web site.


Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

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