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Linux Business The Almighty Buck Linux

75% of Linux Code Now Written By Paid Developers 368

i_want_you_to_throw_ writes "During a presentation at 2010 in Wellington, 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 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?'" It's not clear from the article why anyone should perceive a contradiction between having high ideals and getting paid to do something you enjoy.
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75% of Linux Code Now Written By Paid Developers

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  • by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @07:05PM (#30853518) Homepage

    How many paid kernel developers does microsoft have ? How many does Sun have ? I can't find any straight numbers on the web.

    A thought strikes me, though. It seems unlikely to be more than a few dozen each, at most.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @07:17PM (#30853708) Homepage

    Good point. In a sense, you could say that these companies are "volunteers". They're each a group of people who are "scratching their own itch" and donating their resulting work back to the rest of the community.

    And even if 75% of Linux code is contributed by these companies, that still leaves 25% which isn't. If you think about it, that's actually kind of impressive. You have all these huge companies paying very good developers to build a robust professional-level kernel-- heavyweight companies like Intel, Oracle, IBM, Novell, and Redhat-- and still 25% of the code comes from individual unpaid developers?

  • 25% non-corporate? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by highways ( 1382025 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @07:25PM (#30853830)

    As part of my job, I port Linux to our embedded boards and occasionally hack a driver or two.

    However, in order not to scream out to our competitors "Hey! We're making a new product!", the small amounts of code I send pack at patches (it's a pain in are done so though a nondescript gmail account.

    I suspect this practice is fairly widespread. Therefore, I'd say that 75% is an under-estimate.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @07:29PM (#30853886)
    Except of course, they aren't. They are being paid. Contrary to your post, Open Source Developers are being mainstreamed and getting paid to do it. You mistake "volunteer" for "open source". Volunteer developers are being marginalized, but Open Source Developers are gaining ground all the time.
  • Oh, man... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @07:31PM (#30853938)

    Oh, man. To be a fly on the wall when Ballmer reads THIS little line...

    "Within that field, Red Hat topped that chart with 12%, followed by Inte with 8%, IBM and Novell with 6% each, and Oracle 3%. Despite the clear commercial rivalry between those players, central kernel development worked well, Corbet noted."

    And everyone thinks the Faraday Cage around his office was to keep his signals safe. The boys in Security know it is really to keep the chairs in his office...well, in his office.

  • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @07:44PM (#30854088)

    What percentage of these paid developers work for a company that derives its revenue primarily from software development?

  • I disagree. Volunteer aren't being marginalized at all because most of the paid developers were at one point doing it for free. It's a sign Linux is maturing since now there are businesses willing to hire developers to add and maintain the features the care about.

    Volunteers are still welcome but if they get well known for doing what they do then they are likely to get a job offer or two.

  • by SwordsmanLuke ( 1083699 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @07:51PM (#30854178)
    So who decided that the Open Source movement was about *not* making money? I thought it was about enlightened self-interest. If we make the source of today's apps available to the coders of tomorrow, everyone wins. Up-and-comers get a chance to see real-world (and sometimes, cutting-edge) code - and the community (of software developers) gets new devs who show up already knowing some of the things *we* had to figure out the hard way.

    The new guys get the benefit of our experience and in ten years, we get to hire better new guys.
  • Motives? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @08:43PM (#30854748) Journal

    To what extent do contributing companies have the same motives as contributing individuals? To what extent do these, possibly disparate, motivations coincide with the needs of end users? I think this is the underlying question inherent in this article, but I don't really have any firm answers.

  • Re:Statistics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @08:50PM (#30854824) Homepage

    And if we wait another 100 years, then 100% of Linux code will be written by historians. That's the power of statistics.

    What the hell are you talking about? Historians are people that study the past, not lived in the past.

    Linux is a mature project, amounts of code written today have a minuscule impact on the overall project compared with amounts of code written in the late 90s.

    Linux kernel 2.2.19 (2001): 1.8M SLOC
    Linux kernel 2.6.32 (2009): 12.6M SLOC

    Nothing to see here. Linux is as much a volunteer project as it has ever been.

    So if something was started by volunteers, it'll always be a volunteer project even though those writing code are no longer volunteers? Or did you not RTFHeadline?

    Sometimes slashdot really could use a "-1, Nonsense" moderation...

  • by LarrySDonald ( 1172757 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @09:58PM (#30855350)
    I use linux professionally. So does most of the web. We're "forced" to GPL any improvements we have to make in the process of getting the job done. "Forced" is in quotes because fair is fair - so did everyone else including those bat**** crazy people following Linus and Sallman who wrote the seeds that grew into this and frankly I feel I'm getting more then I could ever give (at best correcting the occasional bug). GPL is there so it's clear to the managers that if you have a problem with that, feel free to pay quite handsomely. It's cheaper to improve linux (and/or the rest of GNU) then it is to not use it. Epic score - that was the whole point all along, right?
  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @12:21AM (#30856264)

    I've installed countless ubuntu systems on people with little technical expertise that don't understand why they have 10 browser tool bars in their IE install and wonder why their computers run like shit.

    In that case, wouldn't the easier solution be to install firefox on windows?

    Don't get me wrong - I like Ubuntu despite the problems I've been having with Linux in general (they really need to get ATI support working properly). I also love the free-software ideal. But, realistically, there's no performance difference between Ubuntu and Windows XP or windows 7. The only problems people have with MS operating systems is that they keep voluntarily installing all sorts of crapware which slows down their machines. If 90% of users switched over to Ubuntu, don't you think that sooner or later they'd start having the same problems?

  • by FreakyGreenLeaky ( 1536953 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @05:18AM (#30857540)

    Sorry, in my experience, on the desktop, you're wrong. I'm typing this on an old P4 (with nVidia) 3GHz machine running Ubuntu. It's slow. This same machine used to have WinXP on it and it was fucking snappy.

    I don't know when/what has gone wrong, but Linux on the desktop is slower than what it used to be.

    I've also been using Linux since 0.9x. Linux on the desktop is buggy, slow and the UI has more problems than windows (eg, copy/paste/tabbing/default buttons/etc - ie, real basic shit). Blind fanb0ism doesn't change that.

    Don't get me wrong, windows has it's problems, but for the typical end-user out there, windows is superior.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @06:03AM (#30857702) Homepage Journal

    Billions lost on failed UK IT projects by the 'adults' with developers receiving very fat paycheques shows it guarantees neither success of the project nor accountability within it.

    That, and if you look at Unix-like systems, you will see that all of them are dead or dying, except for those that are being carried by volunteers (BSD, GNU, Darwin (mostly BSD), and perhaps OpenSolaris). If "the kind of professional accountability in its developers that only a paycheck can engender" is what a software project needs to "sit at the adults' table", then maybe sitting at the adults' table is not what you really want for your project. After all, all those adults are now either dead or on life support.

    To stay with the analogy, perhaps what a project needs to thrive is not to become an adult, but to stay a child.

    And it makes sense, too: projects supported by the flow of money will wither when the money flow stops. This in addition to the argument that it always worth keeping in mind: profit-driven companies will do what maximizes profits, not necessarily what is best for the world. These two things often align, but not always and never completely.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 22, 2010 @06:42AM (#30857828)

    Yes, our company does this as well. Lots of porting, then discreet sharing. Linux is everyones dirty little secret...

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern