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75% of Linux Code Now Written By Paid Developers

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the rest-kept-in-locked-cellar dept.

Linux Business 368

i_want_you_to_throw_ writes "During a presentation at Linux.conf.au 2010 in Wellington, LWN.net 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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So much for "free software", eh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853450)

Yep, I said it. You can't un-read it!

Re:So much for "free software", eh? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853512)

Linux just isn't ready for the desktop yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your TRON fanzines and personal Dungeons and Dragons web-sights across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can get a workable graphic interface to check their mail with, especially not when they already have a Windows machine that does its job perfectly well and is backed by a major corporation, as opposed to Linux which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS.

Re:So much for "free software", eh? (2, Informative)

Kolie (1012967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854008)

Which is why there are ready to play distributions such as ubuntu for the masses. 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 every case I give them little information, and they are fine finding the "start" menu at the top of the screen and running a web broswer to waste hours on youtube, or finding a suitable mail client equivalent. At what point did they have to use the CLI and compile something by hand to get a working GUI? As far as I know, this was all built in ready to run.

It boggles the mind... (5, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854176)

Why should someone feel guilty about being paid for their efforts? Business is a not a bad thing in itself, as people who work do need to be compensated, that is unless if they are independantly wealthy.

I have no issue whatsoever with a developer being compensated for their time, nor does it even raise an eyebrow for me.

I think the ethical standard here is that Linux is open source. That is open for peer review, open for other developers to work further on the ideas and ideals. Too often do people confuse this sort of "free" with the other sort: Mana from heaven.

Yes, you can download and install a linux copy for absolutely free, but thankfully, there is money to be made outside of just getting copies of bits and bytes to a PC. I do not think that there is anything wrong with that at all, and good on the highly intelligent and skilled developers of Linux saying "Where's my paycheck?"

Re:So much for "free software", eh? (5, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854412)

Free as in price and use. Since there are many many businesses that benefit greatly from Linux why is it so surprising that such businesses would pay to develop it further?

I'll be the first to say... (1, Insightful)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853458)

What's wrong with that?

Re:I'll be the first to say... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853492)

What's wrong with that?

Except you're not the first, because that question is mentioned at the end of the summary.

Re:I'll be the first to say... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853544)

Lines of code written for money are evil and execute more slowly.

Re:I'll be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853982)

That's true! (woosh? nope) But as long as the guy in charge of releasing the stuff has ideals different from "Get the product out the door asap, we have competition to crush", that's not relevant.

Re:I'll be the first to say... (3, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853600)

Kinda defensive, aren't you? Who said anything was wrong with it?

The article itself basically presents the facts, but it does mention that it's interesting that a bunch of companies that otherwise compete with each other are in fact cooperating to develop Linux.

Re:I'll be the first to say... (2, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854234)

It is under the principle of better to pay a little bit more once, then paying over and over and over again and end up paying a whole lot more. Then there is also control, building of reputation and expertise. Not to mention to disruption of existing monopoly advantages.

When code competes rather than marketing, you get better code and better applications, when marketing competes you just get bigger lies and endless pay for the privilege beta testing.

Because It Makes A Mockery Of Everything Held Holy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853818)

How many years has it been listening to teenage Slashdot poster proclaiming the dawn of a new era was just around the corner? How many years has it been that Bearded GNU Freaks have been working toward their Retarded GNU Nirvana?

Commercial, paid for software developers and companies were pitied. Claimed to be soon to be relics of a new era.

They couldn't possibly compete with the Power of the Entire Internet/Open Source World.

They couldn't possibly compete with the Million Eyes ensuring bugfree open source software.

Google and Apple have made complete joke out of every single claim made here on Slashdot. Android, OS X, iPhone partially or fully the most free open source license, BSD, based. While Ubuntu and the open source world's cellphone efforts are jokes in the eyes of the rest of the world.

 

Re:Because It Makes A Mockery Of Everything Held H (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854658)

6/10. Moderately good troll, but don't try to be all things to all people.

You can make a good case pointing out that this has happened millions of times before, and you can make a good case that cell phones are making a laughingstock of OSS, but trying both makes you seem confusing.

If you want an AC's advice, focus on the cell phone angle. Keep saying that Android & OS X are based on FOSS but go beyond their base in ways that the open source community never could. Try to blur the line between hardware and software (Apple, Apple, Nexus One, Apple!) and say that because you can't have a computer without hardware, which is propietary, there is no such thing as a good open source computer.

And then blur it all into websites. Google is a company and a lot of FOSS people use Google, therefore they are hypocrites and can't handle living in the world they push on everyone else. Then focus back on cell phones. Go for the 'the average user doesn't care about FOSS' angle - they hate that - and demand a 100% free piece of hardware to run a 100% free OS. If you somehow get a bite by someone who interprets 'free' as 'unlocked' then talk about how they paid five times the price and switch your argument to support - again, cite Google as proprietary.

I hope to hear from you again! Good luck!

Re:I'll be the first to say... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853924)

Amen. Remember, these people are getting paid for their labor, not paid a million times over, every time a copy of the code is distributed.

Re:I'll be the first to say... (3, Insightful)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853980)

"Remember, these people are getting paid for their labor, not paid a million times over, every time a copy of the code is distributed."

Now only if we could apply this concept to the music industry.

Re:I'll be the first to say... (3, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854046)

You can. Go to your favorite bands next concert.

Re:I'll be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854368)

How will that help?

Re:I'll be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854496)

The implication is that you're already pirating everything, so you should at least pay once.

Re:I'll be the first to say... (2, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854680)

A performance is labor, as opposed to selling millions of copies of a recorded album.

Re:I'll be the first to say... (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854038)

And this differs from closed source software in what way? Did you believe that developers of closed source software typically get "a piece of the action"?

Re:I'll be the first to say... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853970)

Everyone agrees that there's nothing wrong with getting paid to develop the Linux code.

However, what I do fear is, what will happen after Linus? I fear that the reason there's no clash between the different goals is because the people who are leading do a proper job of choosing what gets into the code. Hopefully someone with a proven history will be the current maintainer but, if for any reason, the wrong person takes the lead, kernel development would take a serious blow. Sure you can say 'fork it' but the truth is that this would create a mess, even if development is reorganized.

It all boils down to the people who have the power, as anything else in the human world. Admitedly, given it's decentralized nature, Linux development is less at risk than propietary kernels of going in the wrong direction. But it could still happen.

because the one who pays is the one who controls (1)

Akoman (559057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854298)

Because you're employed by a business which is more interested in itself than the broader linux community. The patches you create may be of a use to the broader community, but business priorities will generally come first. Now, it is a given that some (perhaps even a significant portion) of these developers are given a long leash, but the reality is the leash is always there. The resignation of Con Kolivas is a good example of why extensive corporate interest is bad: see http://apcmag.com/why_i_quit_kernel_developer_con_kolivas.htm [apcmag.com]

Re:I'll be the first to say... (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854424)

What's wrong with that?

Nothing at all.

I remember getting my first programming job. I noted to my family almost exactly this: I'm doing what I love, and those fools are paying me to do it. These days I'm a little more mercenary (if they stop paying me I'll go and find some other employer) but I still love programming. Best. Gig. Ever.

Missing critical information... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853472)

How much does a line of code cost?

Re:Missing critical information... (4, Insightful)

Meshach (578918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853572)

How much does a line of code cost?

Cost-per-line is a patently bad way to compute the worth of code or value of a coder. Knowing what to code is more important then just writing the code. Features implemented or bugs fixed is probably a better measure.

Re:Missing critical information... (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853768)

From most of the Linux advocates I hear commenting on slashdot, there AREN'T bugs or missing features in Linux. So why the developers? ;)

No, I'm serious. You'd think Windows couldn't stand on its own legs for two minutes before crashing due to the amount of bugs in the code, and you'd think Linux had no bugs whatsoever.

I like Linux and have no problem with devs getting paid to work on it. Sound slike a good idea to me; in fact, it sound slike how almost every single product in the world is made, pretty much. That has a user base over like 2. :)

Re:Missing critical information... (1)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854342)

From most of the Linux advocates I hear commenting on slashdot, there AREN'T bugs or missing features in Linux.

That is patently a lie.

Phillip.

Re:Missing critical information... (4, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854396)

Value for money, my friend. My Windows and my Linux machines have, lets be honest, a relatively similar number of problems. Windows suffers from the most outright bugs, but then Linux can still sometimes throw a hardware or compatibility wobbly, and sometimes does suffer the occasional deeper problem.

The difference is that one of them is distributed free over the internet, and the other cost me £150 and still delights in harassing how "genuine" I am every time I visit the developer's website.

You tend to be far more forgiving when something is both free (beer) and, feels like it belongs to you instead of some distant oligarchy.

Re:Missing critical information... (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854334)

How much does a line of code cost?

Cost-per-line is a patently bad way to compute the worth of code or value of a coder.

Of course, which is probably why the question mentioned nothing about worth or coder value. Knowing that a line of code costs $1 (or whatever) on average, you can then start looking at various modules within the Linux kernel and project how much it would cost for an average developer to reimplement (on a BSD project, for example) based on the number of lines in that module.

To get the relative value of a coder, you could take a sampling over a large enough period of time and then say that, on average, this coder produces X lines of code per day for a given area of expertise. Then to reimplement the module which falls within the coder's area of expertise, you could take the number of lines in the module divided by X lines of code per day for that coder and estimate the number of days required. If the resulting value is better than the average cost to reimplement, then you have a better than average developer, at least for that specific task.

Re:Missing critical information... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854356)

I have programmer friends who work in jobs where they have to produce a certain amount of code. (I'm assuming that comment lines don't count, which is why comments are non-existent in some software projects.) The underlying metric would be how much does a line of code cost. I'm not saying this is a good or bad metric. When I saw the summary, I thought it was missing some information.

There are some PHBs who would argued that Linux was crap because no one can tell them this metric even though the software itself free. After all, code monkeys are a dime a dozen these days. ;)

Re:Missing critical information... (1)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853614)

varies with the line.

base cost is the the coderss hourly wage. if a coder earning $50/hour codes 10 lines in an hour, cost is $5/line.

now, for difficult lines, if he takes half an hour to finish the line, the cost for that one is $25.

of course, theres more people involved in the process than just one coder.

but the basics are the same.

cost per line = (sum of all employees wages * time spent to code X lines ) / number of lines writen

this will give you an average for the whole project.

Re:Missing critical information... (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854002)

base cost is the the coderss hourly wage. if a coder earning $50/hour codes 10 lines in an hour, cost is $5/line.

Doesn't this seem like a useless metric, though? You can't measure functionality by lines of code in a program (although, at some point, you could probably draw an inverse relationship). What purpose does this data serve?

Re:Missing critical information... (2, Funny)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854112)

How much does a line ... cost?

First one's free?

Re:Missing critical information... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854164)

Bad lines of code are worth $0.50 each [codeoffsets.com] . If good lines of code are worth 5 times as much as bad lines of code, then good lines are worth $2.50 each.

Open Source Devs Had 10 Years To Show Something (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853498)

Now you are being marginalized.

Writing software is hard. But we all knew that ten years ago. But it was fun to believe the bullshit spewed by teenage Slashdot posters and licensing nutcases who spoke of the coming downfall of commercial software by open source developers.

Re:Open Source Devs Had 10 Years To Show Something (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853596)

Wait just a minute! You're saying that...

Unemployed bearded GNU freaks sitting around at home playing World of Warcraft and taking bong hits who only add features and bug fixes to their open source projects when and if they personally feel like it

are being left in the dust by

Employed software engineers who work on their codebase eight hours a day 5 days a week with set goals and accountability.

My god! Who didn't see that coming???

 

The Grownups Have Taken Over (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853690)

LOL! Let those mod points fly! Strike them down!

Come on! Show us we're wrong. Go start a new 0.1pre-alpha text editor on SourceForge with that oh so important GPL license slapped on so no one steals your precious work. LOL...

The computing world has left you incompetent clowns on the trashheap of computing history.

Re:Open Source Devs Had 10 Years To Show Something (3, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Open Source Devs Had 10 Years To Show Something (4, Interesting)

gmack (197796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854118)

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.

Re:Open Source Devs Had 10 Years To Show Something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854634)

But it was fun to believe the bullshit spewed by teenage Slashdot posters and licensing nutcases who spoke of the coming downfall of commercial software by open source developers

You mistake "volunteer" for "open source".

I think he mistook "proprietary" for "commercial." Linux is commercial. The prediction was that open source developers would lead to the downfall of proprietary software. That obviously hasn't happened (yet?), but it has sure cut into proprietary software marketshare, and it's easier to get through life without using any proprietary software, than it was 10 years ago. The video drivers are all that's left, and maybe Flash for some web sites.

So yeah, open source devs had many years to show something, and boy did they ever. Most people weren't sure about open source 10 years ago, but it's quite proven now. "Get a job, teenage Slashdot posters and licensing nutcases," and they did.

How efficient is that ? (3, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853518)

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.

And this is a bad thing?! (4, Insightful)

Rantastic (583764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853556)

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?'

Since when does community == volunteers?

That large, well funded corporations are now contributing members of the linux community is a Good Thing.

Re:And this is a bad thing?! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853632)

Well, it certainly explains why Linux is starting to suffer from severe bloat.

First you had excellent devs self-selecting and trying to show off their best skills.
Then you had some doing it for a meager living.
Now it's largely professional.
Next comes mostly outsourced to incompetent people for lowest possible cost regardless of skill.

Re:And this is a bad thing?! (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853692)

Well, it certainly explains why Linux is starting to suffer from severe bloat.

...

...Now it's largely professional...

BS, I have worked with lots of professionals who are excellent devs and work to show off their best skills.

Re:And this is a bad thing?! (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853708)

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?

Re:And this is a bad thing?! (3, Insightful)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853900)

You might say that these companies have discovered that there is significant value (enough to pay some developers) in the existence/availability of good code, even if they do not derive any value from the sale of that code.

Re:And this is a bad thing?! (5, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853794)

Since when does community == volunteers?

That large, well funded corporations are now contributing members of the linux community is a Good Thing.

Exactly! What's great about Linux is that it's free, not that its developers are unpaid!

Good. Glad to Hear It. (2, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853558)

I rely upon Linux for my business. If something isn't all it should be, or developments don't happen as fast as they could, I'm gratified to know that money is changing hands and somebody might get canned and replaced by another, better professional.

If Linux wants to sit at the adults' table -- and it clearly has the depth and breadth of functionality to do so -- then there needs to be the kind of professional accountability in its developers that only a paycheck can engender.

Re:Good. Glad to Hear It. (0, Flamebait)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853590)

So, exactly how much are you paying for the Linux you rely on for your business?

Re:Good. Glad to Hear It. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853896)

I work as a Linux Administrator, and have supported several Fortune 100 companies. They usually actually purchase annually renewing RedHat licenses (read phone/email support and updates). The last time I checked, 2008, Red Hat was the largest contributor to the Linux kernel. [cnet.com]

Re:Good. Glad to Hear It. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854048)

It's true. Most large companies have some sort of requirement for production machines to be supported.

Re:Good. Glad to Hear It. (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854310)

As someone who doesn't like RPM based distros and as someone who makes a very good living on Linux, I've gone the Linux Foundation membership route [linuxfoundation.org] $100 a year is nothing compared to the money Linux makes me each year.

Re:Good. Glad to Hear It. (5, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854502)

So, exactly how much are you paying for the Linux you rely on for your business?

$699. I thought everyone paid this.

Re:Good. Glad to Hear It. (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854162)

... professional accountability...

In software? Where?

Re:Good. Glad to Hear It. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854262)

... professional accountability...

In software? Where?

If anything, the meritocracy of the OSS model is going to provide at least as much accountability as a paycheck can.
Seems to me the paycheck is going to assure conformity with the employer's needs - many of which have no technical basis.

Re:Good. Glad to Hear It. (5, Insightful)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854456)

If Linux wants to sit at the adults' table -- and it clearly has the depth and breadth of functionality to do so -- then there needs to be the kind of professional accountability in its developers that only a paycheck can engender.

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.

Phillip.

"community" doesn't mean "unpaid" (4, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853564)

There seems to be some assumption that "community" means "unpaid". Not at all. The Free Software community includes a whole lot of people who get paid to use software to meet the needs of employers. If meeting those needs involves improving bits of Free Software, the employer benefits from having those contributions integrated into the product.

Re:"community" doesn't mean "unpaid" (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853710)

There seems to be some assumption that "community" means "unpaid". Not at all. The Free Software community includes a whole lot of people who get paid to use software to meet the needs of employers. If meeting those needs involves improving bits of Free Software, the employer benefits from having those contributions integrated into the product.

I suspect that the provided statistic is true of a large number of *SUCESSFUL* open source projects, Apache and OpenOffice come to mind.

Perceived conflict between ideals and money... (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853622)

You see the same thing in academic publishing. There seems to be a sentiment that getting paid for an article would somehow compromise the objectivity of the writer. However, people contributing these articles are doing it in fields they study professionally, and it is often essential resume building work. This is not a situation I'd like to see mirrored in the computer world.

pay? (4, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853652)

...it's less a case of 'volunteers ahoy!' and more a case of 'where's my pay?'"

I'd say its more a case of "I get paid to do this? who-hoo".

Re:pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853898)

Don't fool yourself. While you may be all enthusiastic about open source those who do the heavy lifting probably do it as a job, as the numbers show. Not to say that every job is drudgery but how long would you do a job you like if you weren't getting paid? Even moreso, how long would someone pay you if they thought they could get you to work for free? Whoever is paying them isn't doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. These people are obviously bringing something to the table that can't be gotten from the kinds of people who are on here asking how they can get in on the action.

Re:pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854100)

"volunteers ahoy!" vs. "pay me for joy!"
"volunteers hurray!" vs. "where's my pay?"
"volunteers galore!" vs. "cash, cash, cash, I want more!"
"volunteers engage!" vs. "I want my wage!"
etc.

WTF kind of retard is the author of TFA for failing to come up with a suitable rhyme?!

Hmmm... (1)

kclittle (625128) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853698)

> 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.

Sure, it's cool to be able to say that you're paid to work on the Linux kernel. But how many of that paid 75% would do it for free? How many would have to do something else to put food on the table if there were not a corporation to pay them?

What I take away from this is the fact that the Linux "community" is dominated by corporations. In many cases (but not all), for-profit corporations, all trying to compete against several other for-profit corporations named Microsoft, Apple, Google, Oracle, etc.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854388)

Considering most of them(Linus included) used to do it for free in their after work times? I'd say pretty good.

Dominated is the wrong word.. Linus for instance refused to have a "Linux job" for years because he was afraid it would taint his decision making. Now he works for the Linux Foundation so hes guaranteed neutrality. A lot of other developers got hired because some corporation liked what they were doing but wanted it done faster so it's more a matter of Linux developers getting payed to do what they were doing anyways.

If your worried that corporations are taking over you can always get yourself an Individual Linux Foundation Membership [linuxfoundation.org] and offset the corporate influence that way.

Re:Hmmm... (2, Insightful)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854626)

Sure, it's cool to be able to say that you're paid to work on the Linux kernel.

Certainly is. I'd decided at the age of 8yrs old the first company I was going to work for was Acorn. And it was. My friend loves Linux and so picks jobs where he gets to play with top end Linux clusters. Previously at CERN and now a top Swiss bank. For a real techie the work is more important than the size of the pay cheque.

But how many of that paid 75% would do it for free?

Depends what the code being contributed is. IBM is porting Linux to its high-end mainframes, but your average enthusiast doesn't have a $1M mainframe in his basement and so no incentive to write Linux drivers for one. I bet a large % of the paid developers are contributing code that is pretty useless to the home desktop user.

How many would have to do something else to put food on the table if there were not a corporation to pay them?

Those working on the kernel are a tiny fraction of OS developers. Around 99% of us do something else to put food on the table.

What I take away from this is the fact that the Linux "community" is dominated by corporations. In many cases (but not all), for-profit corporations, all trying to compete against several other for-profit corporations named Microsoft, Apple, Google, Oracle, etc.

What I take away is that common sense is actually working. The Linux "massively scalable cloud community" and the Linux "big iron community" will be dominated by corporations. And maybe some of the contributions will trickle back and be useful to the rest of us. I can't see who is losing in that scenario.

Phillip.

Start for free, get paid later (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853744)

It happened in many cases that someone would start contributing code to the kernel, someone working for a company (possibly developing code, possibly not) would see their name on the kernel mailing list, and would get them hired on by the company, for the purposes of contributing to the kernel, certain patches the company wanted. They would be kept on to continue developing code (its likely that the company is using Linux in one or more places and they are happy contributing the cost of 1 developer, as its cheaper than paying for 100 licenses of some other software, and they can also audit code quality (not possible with the other stuff). You get to see what you are using, you don't have to just accept what they give you and say thankyou, here's my money, with Linux you can look it all over and determine the value before using it.

Statistics (-1, Flamebait)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853772)

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

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. When all the heavy lifting was being done, where were all the paid developers then?

Nothing to see here. Linux is as much a volunteer project as it has ever been. If companies are willing to pay for polishing the kernel, I have no objections.

Re:Statistics (2, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854478)

...

Do you have any idea at all what you are talking about?

Please compare a kernel from Dec 31st, 1999 to a kernel today. I think you'll find that there isn't much left from the 90s. Fragments here and there sure, but if Linux was anything at all like what it was around the year 2k, no one would use it on a production system now days.

Someone get BitZtream an English teacher! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854696)

See subject above, and please: Learn to write more than 2 words to make your points. Your "see dick and jane run" prose in your replies truly and absolutely sucks.

first code, then pay (1)

SMOKEING (1176111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853798)

In most things open source (at least, open source by birth, less so originally proprietary projects that get eventually opensourced) you first get that itch to scratch, and then -- given you do it better than others -- you find there are people willing to pay you for that.

It's not like you first find yourself needing money, and then consider getting into an open-source project for a pay in preference to other means and wages.

What about Google? (2, Insightful)

netcruiser (1645001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853808)

So why isn't Google more involved in kernel development? I assume they use Linux extensively and hence make billions from using it. Do no evil, do no good?

Re:What about Google? (2, Funny)

igadget78 (1698420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853990)

So why isn't Google more involved in kernel development? I assume they use Linux extensively and hence make billions from using it. Do no evil, do no good?

Nope. They use Microsoft and IE6.

Re:What about Google? (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854320)

You know that thing called the GPL? If you distribute binaries outside you must distribute the source code?

Google doesn't distribute outside. So while they ARE involved in Linux development, they keep things internal and send what code they want to send.

Re:What about Google? (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854620)

Seriously, how much kernel development needs to be done? The OS kernel is the foundation for everything else. If it needs major development, then the project is not very stable by definition.

Given that Linux has been around for many years, it should be stable and hence need little if any changes. The majority of development should be on the application side.

25% non-corporate? (5, Interesting)

highways (1382025) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

It's the real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853838)

I'm a professional I get paid to code whatever problem is placed in front of me Windows, Unix etc its just code to me. I do however try to do my best on All code because that's my job satisfaction.

Software is grown on trees (1)

lostinspace2011 (1650643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853846)

It is a known fact that open source software grows on trees and that's why it is available for free. All other commercial software is developed by skilled engineers who are fed on grown open source vegetables. I find it strange that people think that developers have lots of time on their hand and generally don't have a live and nothing better to do then to write perfect code every time all day long. Developers should be paid, and in my opinion paid a lot. Expecting other people to work for free and expect some SLA on quality is just not realistic. Open Source is about creating quality product by allowing other to review the code and contribute. It's not about making software free, that's just a by product. Don't really understand why this is news, but nice to see that 75% of developers get a reward for their efforts. Still makes we wonder if the other 25% are independently rich or are just millionaires to be able to afford spending their time.

Re:Software is grown on trees (0, Troll)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854682)

I completely agree. Giving away useful code for free is tantamount to communism.

As a professional Engineer, the engineer code of conduct specifically states that we are to get fair pay for work performed. As such I will never give away code.

Lottery? (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853876)

I've always wondered if a geek or anti-IP person won a substantial lottery. Wouldn't we hear about it? Are there any open source coders happily contributing away, having won the lottery? You'd have some example of a free game, music, or movie by such a person.

Re:Lottery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853986)

There are not many people who have won the lottery.

Coders are a tiny subset of people.

The odds are that there aren't any coders that have won the lottery.

Re:Lottery? (1)

Taikutusu (1479335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854314)

The thing is, if you're a coder, you're also probably good at math. You can thus calculate the odds of winning said lottery, and promptly decide "I'm not going to waste my money on that".

People who play the lottery would be a pretty biased sample of the population I'd imagine.

Re:Lottery? (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854598)

For me, this makes Roulette unplayable mostly. The lottery, however, is a life changing event.

Here are the numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853884)

From the "fine" article, a breakdown.

                18% -- no company affilation.
                  7% -- not classified.

                12% -- Red Hat
                  8% -- Intel
                  6% -- IBM
                  6% -- Novell
                  3% -- Oracle
                40% -- Other companies with less than 3% of contributions.

Some notes:
                75% work for companies.
                35% for the top 5 companies.

Drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30853904)

A huge part of the new kernel code are new device drivers. Those drivers are often developed by the hardware companies or sometimes reverse-engineered.

It's a good thing to see that more and more hardware vendors contribute drivers for their devices to the Linux kernel.

"Having high ideals and getting paid" (0)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30853926)

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.

It might not be clear from the article, but the reason why this might be bad should nonetheless be obvious to anyone who doesn't live in a cave and is able to reason.

How is this any different than the "corporatism" in American politics, where laws, rules, bureaucracies, and enforcement all wind up favoring those who "donate" (as if it's some genuine sort of philanthropy?) the most cash to political parties and campaigns?

In this instance, it would mean that code revisions and improvements would inevitably favor the interests of those corporations motivated to pay people to develop and "donate" the most code to the kernel. The more people they pay to develop code for the Kernel, the further they might be able to bend the kernel to their will and desires.

The exact same thing has happened to the World Wide Web and all the protocols used to facilitate it: it has evolved to favor corporate desires and interests, not the desires and interests of those who are using it to learn and share. It's a small miracle that we are even still able to actually use the Web for learning and sharing, given that learning and sharing are so often directly contrary to the goals of corporate marketeering.

Re:"Having high ideals and getting paid" (1)

DelitaTheFridge (912659) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854278)

Companies don't have to get their code contributed to the linux kernel to use it. They can very well keep it all to themselves, or not attempt to mainline it while shipping it to their customers. They generally do so because it is to their benefit. Yes, they are going to make contributions that make the most difference in their products and that help their business, but they won't be mainlined unless the changes benefit the kernel community in general. They aren't going to accept patches from Red Hat that do things like "Make Suse slower", but if Red Hat can improve performance in disk controller XYZ and contributes it, then everyone benefits. (Full disclosure: I am paid to work full time on the Linux kernel.)

Oh, man... (2, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Oh, man... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854330)

At least Ballmer hasn't killed anyone. Hans Reiser, anyone?

Free in the english language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854004)

It seems that many of the misunderstandings in relation to free software, are because there is not a separate word between free as in freedom and free as in cost. Whereas there is in many other languages.

Free software and the community has never been about it being free in cost.

misrepresented (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854072)

There are definitely plenty of paid coders on the kernel. But are they counting the kernel hackers that companies have chosen to sponsor as paid or as volunteer? Does a grass roots volunteer kernel hacker stop counting once a company sponsors him to be able to contribute full time?

But are they in the software business? (3, Interesting)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854088)

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

Re:But are they in the software business? (1)

Spit (23158) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854202)

That's a good point and illustrates the advantage of free software from a user perspective. Users are spending money to get the features they need and lose nothing by those features being available to others gratis, especially when other's input is reciprocal.

Re:But are they in the software business? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854372)

I think you misunderstood my point, but in any case, I don't think users will be happy to pay for features only to find out that others are getting it free. Reciprocation is a nice theory, but too abstract and indirect for most customers to buy into.

Open Source is not about money (4, Interesting)

SwordsmanLuke (1083699) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Open Source is not about money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854560)

So who decided that the Open Source movement was about *not* making money?

The people here who throw a shitfit when they see a GPL application being sold.

This is just the Kernel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854194)

What about applications?

For the exception of a very small percentage of applications (MySQL, NetBeans, Apache), every other application is coded by volunteers.

Theres no such thing as a (0, Troll)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854292)

free lunch. Yep your high school economics teacher wasn't a complete idiot.

from bash.org (1)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30854442)

Asmodee`: ibm said they were investing 1 billion $ into open source projects
DAL9000: Asmodee`: do you know what happens when you invest money in opensource projects?
DAL9000: NOTHING! it buys the coders some beer, nachos, and porn to watch instead of coding.

LInux is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30854594)

This article proves it.

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