Linux is free as in 'speech', but not an in 'beer'

The Linux Foundation has released its December 2010 analysis report entitled Linux Kernel Development: How Fast it is Going, Who is Doing It, What They are Doing, and Who is Sponsoring It — the summary findings of which point to the fact that big business is backing Linux, but that community involvement needs to be more evenly shared.

Linux Foundation Logo.png

The Linux kernel is one of the largest and most successful open source projects that has ever come about says the Foundation. “The huge rate of change and number of individual contributors show that it has a vibrant and active community, constantly causing the evolution of the kernel in response to number of different environments it is used in.”

The fact is that despite the increasing number of developers and companies involved in the process thus far — and the fact that development process has proved that it is able to scale up to higher level enterprise speeds without trouble – the report says that, “Over 70% of all Linux kernel development is demonstrably done by developers who are being paid for their work.”

So Linux is successful then – but it needs that commercial edge to make it so.

The Linux Foundation is famously quoted as saying that, “Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ‘free’ as in ‘free speech’, not as in ‘free beer'”

From the Foundation’s report itself we learn that, “Despite the large number of individual developers, there is still a relatively small number who are doing the majority of the work. In any given development cycle, approximately 1/3 of the developers involved contribute exactly one patch. Over the past 5.5 years, the top 10 individual developers have contributed 10% of the total changes and the top 30 developers have contributed almost 22% of the total. ”

You can read the full report here.

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It is even more interesting to look at who backs Linux in perspective: "none" developers are contributing more and more, while the Linux Foundation is slowing down its contributions. Last but not least some companies like AMD and Nokia doubled their contributions.
Thanks for your reply Roberto - I wonder where this trend will take us next? Adrian