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Novell Rises to Second Highest Linux Contributor 135

Posted by Zonk
from the putting-yourself-out-there dept.
eldavojohn writes "Which companies contribute the most to the Linux kernel? Well, The Linux Foundation released their results and Novell's contributions have gone up 250% (from 3.6% of all contributions to 14.4% of all contributions) to put them at #2 behind Red Hat. This chart also illustrates just how widely Linux is modified by the community and not just a handful of developers/companies. You can find more coverage on blogs and the original report."
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Novell Rises to Second Highest Linux Contributor

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:21PM (#22942444) Journal
    I am reminded of the $350 Million that Microsoft paid Novell last year [slashdot.org] and must wonder if the 200% increase in sales that Novell reports can be linked to that?

    I also must wonder if Novell's only intent is to stay a key part of Linux to maintain this Microsoft partnership?

    Or if Microsoft is urging them to become an even bigger player so that Microsoft can feel like and threaten people that Microsoft owns even more of the Linux kernel, not just the vague patent threats? One of the articles mentions this notion of not 'owning the source code' but rather 'owning the source of the code.' Could this be Microsoft's new target?

    Then there's the super fun idea that Novell is putting in source code from Windows that Windows "accidentally" gave Novell which does several things at once. It justifies Novell's payment for protection from Microsoft litigation, it hobbles their competitors in the Linux realm and it gives Microsoft the power to go after any user or company using Linux with the 'stolen' code. It would also tie up Linux for a bit until that mess was sorted out.

    I mean, since Novell's already demonstrated they're Microsoft's bitch and admitted it [slashdot.org] what is preventing any of the above whacked out theories from being true?
    • by Dionysus (12737) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:29PM (#22942524) Homepage
      Linus and the kernel hackers are free to reject any and all code that comes from Novell. If you (or any other person in the community) want the power to reject kernel code, become a kernel hacker. Until then, nobody but the kernel hackers and the submitters have a say in the matter, really...
      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:54PM (#22942808) Journal
        Right. And Linus has explicitly said that he will not be taking any steps to prevent the poisoning that the GP described. He makes big speeches about it. Solaris anyone?
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          If Sun were to re-license opensolaris under the GPL version 3, I'd switch all my systems to it in a heartbeat.
        • by Ash Vince (602485)
          Wow, can you link to some proof or something? An example or quote possibly?
      • That is totally true but even because of the GPL you are not forced to accept any GPL code either. If there is a specific patch in the Linux kernel you don't want to have you can remove it for your own builds. This is one of the big benefits of GPL code. You are free to take it or free to leave it. Even if Novel is being nefarious, Linus and the other kernel hackers miss it, you are under no obligation to agree to use their GPL code.
        • by ischorr (657205) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @03:09PM (#22942986)
          True, though not terribly feasible if other changes have dependencies on the code you don't want. Especially when the changes themselves aren't easily compartmentalized, and the changes themselves are changed over time. You can't just say "I want to build a kernel that excludes these 1000 changes". You'll end up with something that won't compile, and won't be trivial to make work.

          If you want to create (and possibly maintain) a forked version of kernel without the offending changes, fine, but that may be an unfeasibly large amount of work, especially considering the number of changes they make.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Chris Burke (6130)
            Fortunately there are large companies who dedicate resources to managing which code they do and don't want in their kernel.

            It might be too hard for your average roll-your-own-kernel type, but for most users who are using a kernel provided by their distribution, these kinds of shenanigans shouldn't affect them much because Red Hat is going to do the hard work of stripping the offending code out.
      • by NickFortune (613926) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @03:07PM (#22942960) Homepage Journal

        Linus and the kernel hackers are free to reject any and all code that comes from Novell.

        Right. And therefore, presumably, the GP's concerns are without foundation, since it will be a simple matter to grep for the string SEKRIT MS PATENTED CODE: DO NOT USE in the comments.

        I'm surprised no one has seen it before, really.

      • by centinall (868713)
        It's one thing to reject code. It's another to know whether the code is protected by a patent.
    • by bbsguru (586178)
      I'm not saying this is connected, but I saw 3 black helicopters at the Provo airport last week. How about this one: maybe the contribution of material to open source projects is being done because, um, that's how the system works. Nah, couldn't be that!
    • for instance, here's a statement with no basis in fact, and based on pure distrust and speculation:
      Then there's the super fun idea that Novell is putting in source code from Windows that Windows "accidentally" gave Novell

      Pure paranoia only serves to hurt everyone, and doesn't help anyone (except maybe Microsoft).

      These arguments are starting to sound like a "who's the alien shape shifter?" speech by the guy who's lost it in your average bad sci-fi show.
    • what is preventing any of the above whacked out theories from being true

      Easy peasy...if Novell drops code that infringes upon MS code, Novell can be sued for knowingly violating the GPL. Yes, the end result may be code rewrites in the kernel, but no Linus user will be held accountable for Novell's mistakes. So does Novell want to cut its own throat? Maybe someone higher up is willing to take that chance and cash out from the fire sale. But then again with Sarbanes-Oxley lurking out there, this could quickl

      • "no Linus user will be held accountable for Novell's mistakes"

        Please stop using Linus (srsly, he's gotta be tired already), and consider using Linux instead. It won't complain about your choice of filesystem, nor will it go behind your back and rant on mailing lists.
    • by brouski (827510)

      I mean, since Novell's already demonstrated they're Microsoft's bitch and admitted it [slashdot.org] what is preventing any of the above whacked out theories from being true?

      Lack of evidence?

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        Don't bring rational idea into this contest of shooting ourselves in the foot. Linux is starting to gain momentum again, probably because of all the support Novell is throwing at it and we need to sabotage that for some reason.
    • Why waste time on conspiracies when MS is attacking Linux in plain sight?
    • by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:49PM (#22942750)
      A)There is almost certainly code in Linux that Microsoft has patents to. The simple reason being that software patents are so inane and ambiguous that there's certainly code in ANY large piece of software that Microsoft has patents to.

      B)It would only affect jurisdictions that recognize software patents.

      C)It would be a very high-risk way to achieve your goals since you have to trust a third party which could potentially reveal your clandestine operations, if Microsoft wanted to do this it would be easier to make the contribution as a random individual, thus making it harder to track it back to Microsoft.

      D)Hurting Linux would hurt Novell eventually. They may have been stupid to sign that agreement with Microsoft, but they do know VERY well what happened to SCO. Since the patents would only gain them anything in countries that recognize them, and as they have a potential to lose their business everywhere that does not, it would be an extremely high risk move.

      E)IBM, RedHat etc doesn't need to prove Microsoft was behind the scheme to retaliate. Should Microsoft use software patents against Linux, either directly or by proxy, they could sue Microsoft over other patents ( and as per "A" they certainly do have the means to do so ). It would be enough that they strongly suspect Microsoft is in the background to trigger mutually assured destruction, and Microsoft knows this.

      Essentially, the day Microsoft decides to use software patents against Linux is the day you know they are so desperate they have nothing left to lose. So far they are mainly using patent FUD, but when the empire eventually does crumble they will certainly try, other companies will retaliate, and the collateral damage will be huge.

      • To respond:

        A) if they don't sue soon, then it won't matter, will it? I don't believe they do; they just rattle swords well
        B) oh yeah, juridictions that support sotware patents.... let' say some 590M users in US, Japan, Canada, etc?
        C) we agree that patent baiting through Novell would be beyond explosive
        D) MS fears and deals with all competitors eventually, but they've softened on Linux because they're still getting loads of server revenues, so it's not so bad for them, especially with the DOJ looking over th
      • D)Hurting Linux would hurt Novell eventually. They may have been stupid to sign that agreement with Microsoft, but they do know VERY well what happened to SCO. Since the patents would only gain them anything in countries that recognize them, and as they have a potential to lose their business everywhere that does not, it would be an extremely high risk move.

        Actually, I tend to view Darl McBride's "set the controls for the heart of the sun" strategy as increasing the plausibility of the conspiracy theorie

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The standard doctrine of unclean hands would protect Linux from any such suit, should the crazy conspiracy of Novell injecting Microsoft written code into linux be actually true.
    • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @03:11PM (#22943002)
      I wish your post was labeled +5 "funny" instead of "interesting" which indicates that people take the idea seriously.

      The idea that Novell is going to seed "microsoft" code into Linux is ridiculous on the face of it. You can't just copy paste windows device driver code into Linux and expect it to work... and windows coding styles vs linux coding styles are so different that it would be obvious in an instant if such a thing happened.

      Seriously, not everything that Microsoft does is part of some big conspiracy to eat your babies. I think the reasoning behind their partnership is fairly clear.

      Linux *does* have a strong position in the server market, and for practical reasons Microsoft *has* to be able to interoperate with at least *some* Linux distros. This isn't a position that they are super happy to be in, and the fact that they made this deal to support operation with Suse should be seen as a *victory* by Linux in the marketplace.

      Microsoft is trying to do damage control by positioning some Linux vendors as partners instead of competitors. If Linux becomes any more successful than it is, you can expect to see Microsoft try to make deals with other Linux vendors like Red Hat, to try to insure that Linux is used in *conjunction* with Microsoft server products, rather than risk having Microsoft be cut out of the market entirely.
      • by Vexorian (959249) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @03:58PM (#22943564)

        Linux *does* have a strong position in the server market, and for practical reasons Microsoft *has* to be able to interoperate with at least *some* Linux distros. This isn't a position that they are super happy to be in, and the fact that they made this deal to support operation with Suse should be seen as a *victory* by Linux in the marketplace.

        And you would be right, if you weren't totally wrong, this is no victory for Linux, if anything it is a point of shame, all the little interoperability Novell won by this was coming anyways after the recent fight the EU got with MS (ask samba) All Novell has made is make a deal that allows MS to portray themselves as owners of all the Linux IP and forces Linux (SLED) users to pay a MS tax, not to mention that Novell has mostly become MS' personal bitch after it. With all the Silverlight debacle and the OOXML debacle for which Novell is a big responsible for what just happened with ISO recently.

        Not to forget that the reason Novell helps Linux so much is because it gives them a free platform where they can build the MONO dependent OS they would love to see.

        Microsoft is trying to do damage control by positioning some Linux vendors as partners instead of competitors. If Linux becomes any more successful than it is, you can expect to see Microsoft try to make deals with other Linux vendors like Red Hat, to try to insure that Linux is used in *conjunction* with Microsoft server products, rather than risk having Microsoft be cut out of the market entirely.
        Novell apologetic is harming FLOSS like no other wrong attitude, the deal has only been negative for Linux, period. You may try to make it look like something good or proof of Linux success, as a matter of fact it does prove MS was really afraid of FLOSS, however the rresult of the deal has only been a negative effect after another. BTW redhat has multiple times stated they actually got dignity and they won't make such deals with MS.
        • by LinuxDon (925232)
          Quote: "Not to forget that the reason Novell helps Linux so much is because it gives them a free platform where they can build the MONO dependent OS they would love to see."

          The reason Novell created Mono is for the following:
          - It allows code to be written once for windows in C# and it is then binary compatible with Linux through Mono;
          - Novell offers the same products (ZENworks/eDirectory/Groupwise/etc.) for Windows / Linux and Netware, so it is VERY important for them to be able to run the same code on mult
      • What happens if MS just buys Novell, it's fairly cheap for MS http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NOVL [google.com] , and given the results I'm not sure shareholders would turn down a nice offer from Redmond. This way MS WOULD appear on the kernel contributors list, which would seriously coolify them...
    • by kahrytan (913147)

      I am reminded of the $350 Million that Microsoft paid Novell last year [slashdot.org] and must wonder if the 200% increase in sales that Novell reports can be linked to that?
       
      Does anyone remember Microsoft's $300 million investment into Apple Computer, Inc back in the 90s? It is probably same motives then as it is today.
      • by mab (17941)
        Not the same the investment in Apple was part of a legal settlement over patent infringement.
        • by kahrytan (913147)

          Not the same the investment in Apple was part of a legal settlement over patent infringement.
          One, $300 million was paid around the time Steve Jobs joined.

          and two, $350 milion with Novell is over patent infringement.
    • by nguy (1207026)
      Then there's the super fun idea that Novell is putting in source code from Windows that Windows "accidentally" gave Novell which does several things at once. It justifies Novell's payment for protection from Microsoft litigation, it hobbles their competitors in the Linux realm and it gives Microsoft the power to go after any user or company using Linux with the 'stolen' code. It would also tie up Linux for a bit until that mess was sorted out.

      The origin of source code in Linux can be traced. If Microsoft a
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      Hmmm... Novell is contributing to linux... Quick lets trash them however possible so our elite hacker OS will stay the real of the hackers and not advance to anything mainstream and productive for everyone else. I mean Let shoot ourself all over the foot this time.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:27PM (#22942516) Journal
    that this F/OSS stuff is actually working... that would just ruin everything. If this keeps up where will it stop? Baseball players playing for the love of the game? Backyard engineers reporting on bad levees? Damnit, this will ruin everything.


  • I may get b$tch slapped for this, but isn't this primarily as a result of them acquiring SuSE? Having been a Linux user for some eight years, and a SuSE user for seven years and twelve months, I've always considered SuSE at the forefront. As a matter of fact ther reason I switched was because my version of Redhat at the time had limited driver support. SuSE on the other hand had a full line of Xwin drivers.
    • by qortra (591818)

      I may get b$tch slapped for this

      OK, prepare yourself.

      First, Novell announced their acquisition of SUSE in 2003, the same year that that they bought Ximian. At this point, its difficult to tell which acquisition is responsible for more of their GNU/Linux work.

      Secondly, from the article: "while Novell has jumped from an anemic 3.6 percent in 2007 to a robust 8.9 percent in 2008". Which means that their recent surge in productivity has nothing to do with their acquisitions of SUSE or Ximian. It has to do with their allocation of reso

      • by a whoabot (706122)
        "Fourthly, what the heck is with "b$tch"? The '$' sign is substituted for 'S', not 'I'. And that practice is annoying even when done correctly. Where you perhaps thinking of "b!tch"?"

        Sometimes people put various characters to censor a swear word. Like "S#%T!" etc. Perhaps he just used one $ for this purpose.
        • by qortra (591818)
          True enough, but when one changes only a single letter (or the word is too short), one usually chooses the appropriate symbol to replace that character. For instance, one would never see "A!!". It would always be filtered "A$$". Alternatively, an asterisk (*) can be substituted for a single letter; e.g. Un*x (in that case, to bypass trademark infringement). As in your example, random characters are usually only used when they fill the entire interior (and that interior is more than 1 character long) of
      • by AvitarX (172628)
        Back in the day (from my recollection) SUSE would develop X drivers and then release them to others with a delay. They were indeed at the forefront of X drivers for a while, and it was because of effort they did.
        • by qortra (591818)
          Interesting. Is this still the case today?

          Of course, this is immaterial to the subject at hand; in general, X drivers are implemented in userspace rather than the kernel. Did they also develop kernel drivers frequently?

          Frankly, I would love to see statistics from the Linux Foundation on Linux contributions going back a decade or so. Also, I would definitely love a breakdown of the kernel sections to which each company contributed. My guess is that these days, many of those piddly 0.3-0.7% contributi
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by samkass (174571)
        I'd just like to point out with some minor amusement that for those RMS followers who love to prepend "GNU/" to the front of the Linux OS's name, this is one case in which it's inappropriate no matter which side of that fence you fall. We're talking about Linux kernel contributions.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by qortra (591818)
          Yes, you are correct; my mistake. The fact that these were exclusively kernel contributions was momentarily lost on me.

          Its worth noting, however, that the Linux kernel as it stands simply doesn't work with any compiler other than GCC. Have you every read the kernel source code? Fully 20% of the damn thing is GCC-specific preprocessor directives (I might be exaggerating a bit). I think that at one point, there was an effort to make it compile with the Intel compiler (which, performance-wise, it much s
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Samrobb (12731)

            Its worth noting, however, that the Linux kernel as it stands simply doesn't work with any compiler other than GCC.

            May have been true once, but it hasn't been for a long time. I recall seeing news about using Intel's [intel.com] compiler to build a Linux kernel years ago. More recently, Rob Landley's been doing some work with tinycc [landley.net] to get it up to snuff for kernel compiles, with the goal of generating a system that can "...completely rebuild itself, under itself, without any gnu code on the hard drive."

          • by sloanster (213766)
            IIRC the linux kernel could be compiled with the intel c compiler a few years ago. But naturally the official kernel would have to be compiled with a free as in speech compiler.
          • by schmiddy (599730)
            True, the Linux kernel does make heavy use of GCC specific directives. However, interestingly, Intel's compiler has copied enough of the GCC directives that it's actually (sort of) possible to compile the Kernel with ICC, and apparently has been for several years. See here: http://blog.janik.cz/archives/2004/03/11/T23_04_41/ [janik.cz] or here: http://www.intel.com/support/performancetools/c/linux/sb/cs-007713.htm [intel.com]
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:47PM (#22942710) Journal

      and a SuSE user for seven years and twelve months
      Would you venture so far as to say you've been a SuSE user for eight years?
      • by spun (1352)
        Well, to be fair, the twelve moths were all February, so not quite eight years.
      • and a SuSE user for seven years and twelve months
        Would you venture so far as to say you've been a SuSE user for eight years?
        *Woooosh*
  • Novell produces one of the most popular linux distros [novell.com] out there. Is it really surprising to anyone they contribute a lot of changes? Sure they've made a pact with the "devil" but there is no indication they are getting out of linux anytime soon.
    • by cerelib (903469) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:49PM (#22942748)

      Novell produces one of the most popular linux distros [novell.com] out there. Is it really surprising to anyone they contribute a lot of changes?


      It is not surprising that the two are connected, nor is it neccessary, but it should be applauded when such a correlation appears. If we look at Ubuntu/Canonical for instance, by your standards, they should be pretty high on the list, right? In fact, they do not even appear on this list. Even Mandriva makes an appearance at 0.4%. Note that I do not know if Debian or Ubuntu developers fall into the Other or Unknown categories, but Debian exists as an organization and Canonical is a company, so I would expect them to be represented somehow, at least a footnote, if their contributions were of a sufficient size to make this list. I do not expect that every distro should employ kernel hackers. Ubuntu is more focused on user experience than kernel level features. So they do play a key role in the development of Linux as a complete operating system. My point here is that distributing a popular distro does not mean you develop a proportional share of the Linux kernel, or any linux software. Luckily, open source software enables and encourages such contributions back to the community. So don't say, "Well, given their size and profits, Novell should be doing that", instead say, "Kudos to Novell for giving back proportionaly to their success".
      • by sjbe (173966)

        It is not surprising that the two are connected, nor is it neccessary, but it should be applauded when such a correlation appears.

        Agreed, though I never implied any causation between the two. I simply said it shouldn't be surprising that they contribute a lot.

        If we look at Ubuntu/Canonical for instance, by your standards, they should be pretty high on the list, right? In fact, they do not even appear on this list.

        Canonical may or may not contribute. The data presented (if true) says little about the matter one way or the other. Around 25% of contribution are either from individuals or from unknown groups. Also this data is just for kernel contributions. It's quite possible that they don't contribute much to the kernel but instead contribute elsewhere. There are plenty of projects

  • Novel contributes 8.9% of the changes to the kernel, not 14.4%.
    • Come on, don't be dense. This percentage is different for any timeframe. Individual developers make large or small changes in the kernel during a cycle. Sometimes a huge amount of commits is made when whole trees are changed for minor things, and sometimes a small commit is a big thing for the code.
  • Missing? (Score:5, Funny)

    by AJWM (19027) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:31PM (#22942562) Homepage
    That's funny, I don't see Microsoft on that list anywhere...
  • by cgranade (702534) <cgranade AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:33PM (#22942584) Homepage Journal
    I see a lot of posts here treating Novell with suspicion (maybe even well-deserved) about their contributions. For my part, however, I would like to thank Novell as one of the many users directly benefiting from their support. It's no good to vilify Novell, then demand that the support open source, and decry them when they do. If it turns out later that there was something foul going on, then we can go back to vilification. For now, though, they have done well and helped us all out. Hence, once again, thank you, Novell.
  • Microsoft: "So, can we get an ISO standard on a kernel? MS Linux, yah, we're certified."
  • yea, but (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by pak9rabid (1011935)
    How much of this contributed code is 'Microsoft interoperability' code that will later be used to "prove" that Linux infringes on Microsoft's patents?
  • What I found equaly interesting in the report is the lack of mention of Dell and Ubuntu in the list. From most estimates Ubuntu leads the pack as far as desktop installs are concerned, and Dell had promised better driver support for their Linux PCs.
    With more talk of desktop Linux these days, and a small but real increase in desktop market share (as reported from web stats), you would think some of that would be reflected in kernel development. But it looks as though big business and expensive hardware is s
    • by richlv (778496)
      the absence of ubuntu/canonical is slightly weird indeed.
      now dell, i don't know how many of the drivers they develop internally, maybe drive by dell has pused, for example, broadcom up in the list ?
  • Good, bad..they're the ones with the code.
  • ...opensuse 10.3's autoyast would properly configure networking on a dell 860 or 2950.

    and...

    WTF is the point of copying autoyast user scripts to a location on the hard drives to run from...if they unmount the #!@$!@#$ install media (CD here) before they do the #!$#@!$ copy????
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:42PM (#22942670) Homepage
    Where is Canonical on that list? Or rather, are they represented there at all? I would think that at the very least they would get money from Dell to fix a few things. Slashdotters often like to bash RedHat for shedding their free desktop division, but the love for Canonical seems endless.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:51PM (#22942774)
      Canonical's contributions aren't to the kernel. All the good desktop/usability stuff they are doing happens outside the kernel. Their contributions are nevertheless important to FOSS.
      • by pembo13 (770295)
        I hear from a lot of people (I haven't investigated this myself) that a lot of their usability contributions all happen downstream, and so take longer, or don't at all, to go back upstream and be echoed out to other distributions.
      • by bfields (66644)
        "Canonical's contributions aren't to the kernel." That's over-generalizing a bit; try this:

        $ git clone git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux-2.6.git
        $ cd linux-2.6
        $ git log --author="canonical.com\|ubuntu.com" | git shortlog

        and you'll see some contributions, though not as many as from Novell/Suse.

        The authors of this paper are basically doing a souped-up version of the above, extracting author/committer information from the git history. (Though with some specialized scripts, and

      • by Kennon (683628)
        Novell invests heavily in the development of Gnome AND KDE. Not to mention that they own a couple huge user space projects like AppArmor, Evolution , mono, Compiz, Tomboy, F-Spot and dump tons of code at big projects like OpenOffice and Xen. To excuse Canonical for not contributing much to the kernel is giving them a free pass IMHO.
    • by apokryphos (869208) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @04:48PM (#22944210) Homepage
      Ubuntu is mainly a packaging and marketing distribution (packaging Debian's package snapshots), and not really a big contributor to new technologies or upstream free software so much like Red Hat or SUSE. So I don't think they employ any kernel developers at all. And no, it's not like Ubuntu has many desktop developers rather than low-level developers (as the comments below suggest) -- I think they only employ three desktop developers (who mainly work on packaging anyway as I recall), in contrast to SUSE's very many desktop developers [opensuse.org] in OO.o (something like 15 there alone), KDE, GNOME, etc.

      In fact, the reality is also that Canonical's only other big flagship product, Launchpad, is completely proprietary.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Most of Canonical's time is spent tediously making everything brown; it is a wonder they have as many kernel contributions as they do when you consider how many things they have managed to turn brown.
  • Where's Google? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by skydude_20 (307538) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:48PM (#22942724) Journal
    Or do they keep all their advances to themselves?
    • by Gazzonyx (982402)
      What, the $5k per student that they've been funding for the last 3 or 4 years doesn't count for anything? That's like saying that IBM doesn't care about Eclipse because they aren't the largest contributers to the project. I have absolutely no idea if they are, but you get the point. Also, Google has Jeremy Allison; while not a kernel dev., he has probably had more of a positive impact on open source than he'll ever see credit for - and I bet he does quite a bit of Samba work on the Google clock. Either
  • by FranTaylor (164577)
    The kernel is just one part of Linux, and that's all this report covers. One might as well divine the direction of the automotive industry by dissecting a transmission.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192)
      The kernel is all of Linux(tm).
    • by VON-MAN (621853)
      "It's just the kernel."
      and
      "The kernel is just one part of Linux."
      Aah, a cup of coffee and a good laugh in the morning.
  • Number one is some company called "none", followed by "unknown" and Red Hat is 3rd
  • by keithjr (1091829) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @03:24PM (#22943122)
    The top two "contributors" on the list are "None" (13.9%) and "Unknown" (12.9%).

    Regarding the former, I think it is very much worth noting, more than Novell's increased contributions, that so much is still being done by independent contributors. As for the latter, what exactly does that mean? How can we not know where changes come from. That's a bit disconcerting.
    • by cbart387 (1192883)
      I think I understand it.
      • None: It is known that the contributor is not affiliated with any company
      • Unknown: It is unknown if the contributor is affiliated with a company or not

      It's not that they don't know who's contributing... they just don't know if the person contributing works for a company. Or... they know that the person works for a company but they don't know if company is supporting that particular contribution. Remember, the table was showing companies, not people.

  • Novell (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sentientbrendan (316150) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @03:27PM (#22943160)
    I think it's kind of a shame that Novell is doing so poorly. They actually had *negative* income in 2007, and are still largely making their money from selling *netware* despite all their Linux investments.

    A lot of the stuff they are working on is pretty cool, especially Mono.

    However, I think it's clear that there just isn't room in the market place for another distro.
    • Re:Novell (Score:4, Insightful)

      by apokryphos (869208) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @04:40PM (#22944088) Homepage
      Actually, Novell reported huge increases quarter-over-quarter growth [reuters.com] in their Linux business. Something like 200% year-over-year in the SUSE Linux part. Even if some other parts of their business are doing badly, it's pretty clear that their Linux business is on the rise and has been for some time. Which is great for Novell and great for free software (as they have hundreds of engineers working upstream).
    • by sjwest (948274)

      Yes I was once a happy suse client (when it was german) but our days of paying Novell have past. While not everybody in Novell is evil, i'd rather not support a company that does the evil deal with Microsoft.

      All our servers are now Debian. Most clients - Ubunto/Debian.

    • by LinuxDon (925232)
      Novell isn't just another distro, Novell is selling products ON TOP of their distro.

      And Suse Linux Enterprise Server is a very well supported distro in the enterprise environment. 3th party vendors are usually only offering two options to run their products on (in a supported way): Novell SLES or Redhat.
    • by Ilgaz (86384) *
      "A lot of the stuff they are working on is pretty cool, especially Mono."

      I wonder how many people/IT chiefs rejected to use Novell solutions and Suse since they were seriously irritated by the cool Mono developer and his actions like "installing .NET to iPhone", "OOXML is superb", the organization he founded still can't say a word about horrible IT/ISO scandal, their tactics of "Use our products or MS may sue you in future".

      Novell was a great company while they were actually competing with Microsoft. Now, f
  • Interesting...so what you're saying is that paying developers produces more usable code for the kernel? But I thought we were supposed to hate these companies that profiteer off our beloved egalitarian operating system.
  • is material that can be used by anyone but Novell?
  • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn&earthlink,net> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @05:01PM (#22944372)
    I'm not certain that this is a bad thing. Not certain. It might be a good thing. Perhaps.

    OTOH, it makes me more interested in OpenSolaris, and it makes me wish the Hurd people would stop starting over from scratch. It also makes me more interested in BSD, even though I prefer the GPL.

    Sun has talked about releasing OpenSolaris under GPL3. If they do, I'm going to be VERY interested.

    If Linux were under GPL3, I wouldn't be worried about Novell. It isn't. The language of the GPL is equivocal in terms of what it means WRT patents. I think it means that if you can't distribute something legally and allow those who receive it to also distribute it, then you don't have the right to distribute it. Unfortunately, it's not totally clear about this. It was written before software could be patented, and it certainly didn't contemplate patents like a patent on adding 2 + 2 in Basic. (That particular one is harmless...but it's a magnificent example of the kind of foolish stuff that's allowed to be patented.) So the writing of the GPL frequently used general terms. Terms which apply with equal force to trademarks, copyrights, and patents, even though all are very distinct in their limitations and powers. As a result, it allows patents to be used in most places that it allows trademarks to be used. UGH!!! A sensible interpretation of the GPL would, indeed, mean that the GPL3 was unnecessary. I don't feel like I can count on the courts coming to a sensible interpretation in any reasonable amount of time.

    So I trust GPL3 code coming from Novell. Other code...leaves me hesitant.

    This is sort of like how I feel about Mono. I'm not certain it's booby-trapped, but I can't tell, so I'd rather avoid it. I'm risk averse. I know it. I've always been risk averse. To me, trusting Novell looks like excessive risk. I *hope* their code is being thoroughly vetted by those who know better than I do what's dangerous. I fear it isn't.
    • "It [the GPL] was written before software could be patented, and it certainly didn't contemplate patents like a patent on adding 2 + 2 in Basic."

      GPLv2 was from the early 90s. The Free Software Foundation has been working against software patents longer than that - one of the classic cases RMS cites is from the mid-80s of the FSF trying to create a compression program that doesn't use a patented algorithm.
      • by HiThere (15173)
        My mistake. It thought it was earlier. Certainly it was before software patents had become as abusive as they now are (or at least before they were as blatantly abusive).

        Still, this only increases my admiration for the foresight of RMS.
  • I'm surprised to see that Google isn't on this list. Android, Goobuntu, GFS... Why aren't they contributing this back into the main tree? Doesn't Andrew Morton work there? What does he do all day? Chris DiBona? Google has linux repositories and plenty of open source projects. Is this simply a case where code from Google isn't being attributed to them and instead is filed under unknown? Anyone, Bueller?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by apokryphos (869208)
      Check out Greg KH's blog [kroah.com]:

      "To be fair to one company, Google, we were incorrectly counting their representation, keeping Andrew Morton in the "Linux Foundation" bucket instead of the "Google" bucket. That will change the list of top companies placing Google somewhere between 10 and 13, I haven't re-run the numbers yet to get the exact placement."
  • by pjbass (144318) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @03:43AM (#22948972) Homepage
    Another big portion is companies like Novell contract themselves to other companies to do their kernel development for them. AMD, for example, pays Novell to do their kernel work for them. This isn't an uncommon practice, since RedHat also gets money from other companies to do their development work in the kernel. But when it comes down to it, the actual "originator" of the code or concept may not be Novell or RedHat, but they're the email address getting merged on the Signed-off-by: lines, which isn't a big deal.

    I don't see this as anything evil or underhanded, being a network stack hacker myself. The kernel maintainers and core contributers are far from stupid and gullible, and will *not* accept anything if they see proprietary undertones. I'm also sure they're putting a bit more scrutiny into reviewing patches from Novell just because. But the bottom line is more people are working on the kernel, trying to make it better, which is the end-goal. It really, in my mind, doesn't matter who is doing it, just as long as it's getting done and done well.

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