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Who's Writing Linux These Days? 63

Posted by timothy
from the thought-we-were-an-autonomous-collective dept.
cold fjord writes "IEEE Spectrum reports, "About once a year, the Linux Foundation analyzes the online repository that holds the source code of the kernel, or core, of the Linux operating system. As well as tracking the increasing complexity of the ever-evolving kernel over a series of releases from versions 3.0 to 3.10, the report also reveals who is contributing code, and the dominant role corporations now play in what began as an all-volunteer project in 1991. While volunteer contributors still represent a plurality among developers, over 80 percent of code is contributed by people who are paid for their work. ""
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Who's Writing Linux These Days?

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  • Patrons (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @01:02PM (#46150931)

    While volunteer contributors still represent a plurality among developers, over 80 percent of code is contributed by people who are paid for their work.

    This. I've said it before and will say it again. The open source projects with most bugs and slowest development time are the ones without proper sponsors. That's why I also use a lot of commercial closed-source software myself, but do not have any particular grudge against OSS either. Just pay the developers properly, because complex, properly quality-assured modern software is impossible without that.

  • Re:Patrons (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:33PM (#46152355)

    Before you get too comfortable with that assertion, recall that Linux Torvalds wasn't being paid to develop Linux in the beginning nor for long after. Nor were his earliest assistants.

    I'm still mostly comfortable with my assertion. :) I am talking about modern software, which is significantly more complex than early Linux [github.com]. Indeed, it is the complexity and lines of code which makes it day by day harder to make meaningful software without it being a full-time paid commitment.

    I'm pretty sure that if software had gained some sort of magical properties in the last 30 years I'd have noticed it.

    Yes, the codebase contains more components than it used to - although having smarter and more standardized hardware has reduced the number of unique drivers. But Torvalds is still "Penguin-in-Chief". He just delegates a lot now since there are more components to ride herd on. And now it's his primary job.

    The fact that a lot of the components have full-time professional teams working on them is generally an indication that they can see a benefit from having control over an item on their personal agenda and on their own schedule instead of waiting for someone to come along on their own time and in their own way. Which is natural, since the essential systems were worked out 2 decades ago. Since then, we've seen the addition of virtualization support (in large part created by academic, rather than commercial developers), abstractions in block I/O, new network features and filesystems, clustering and other things that are typically of commercial interest.

    Along the way, a lot of these items were originally developed by unpaid developers who then leveraged what they had done into careers for themselves. Even Red Hat itself wasn't a major commercial endeavor at first.

    Not to say that IBM and Oracle haven't been major contributors, but Linux has many roots and many parts and they each have their own characteristics.

  • Re:Patrons (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @02:34PM (#46152387)

    Personal opinion, unrelated to my work:

    You said:

    1) " The open source projects with most bugs and slowest development time are the ones without proper sponsors.

    Hum, let's take that at face value, just for the sake of argumentation (I personally don't think so, but let's put that aside for the moment)

    2) "That's why I also use a lot of commercial closed-source software myself, but do not have any particular grudge against OSS either."

    2 does not follow 1.

    Open source with sponsors is better, you say. Closed-source is not an extrapolation of that.

    The fact that open source is favoured in many situations where cost is not a factor shows its quality to be superior to that of closed-source -- not the opposite.

    While surely people must have a means of living, in my opinion business pressure leads to poorer products -- either by rushing incomplete versions out or simply by design.

    I do not have data to back this up other than the massive use of open source in everything.

  • Re:Patrons (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:23PM (#46156557)

    Tridge and Jeremy have been working on Samba for twenty years now. Which is a very long time.

    I remember hearing a story about how they went to a conference and they were so excited to meet the Microsoft SMB devs and ask them questions. But when they got there they found that the Microsoft devs had only been working there for a couple years so they were still newbies.

    And when they asked how many people work on SMB at Microsoft, they realized that the Samba team had more full time professional developers than the Microsoft team.

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