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Who Wrote, and Paid For, 2.6.20

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the names-and-companies dept.

Programming 238

Corbet writes "LWN.net did some data mining through the kernel source repository and put together an analysis of where the patches came from. It turns out that most kernel code is contributed by people paid to do the work — but the list of companies sponsoring kernel development has a surprise or two." The article's conclusion: "The end result of all this is that a number of the widely-expressed opinions about kernel development turn out to be true. There really are thousands of developers — at least, almost 2,000 who put in at least one patch over the course of the last year. Linus Torvalds is directly responsible for a very small portion of the code which makes it into the kernel. Contemporary kernel development is spread out among a broad group of people, most of whom are paid for the work they do. Overall, the picture is of a broad-based and well-supported development community."

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BDFL (1, Redundant)

SaidinUnleashed (797936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195576)

No matter how little code he contributes, Linux will always be Linus' baby.

All hail the Benevolent Dictator For Life! o/

Re:BDFL (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18195966)

It turns out that most kernel code is contributed by people paid to do the work

This shows that opensores does just not work. It has been a great vision, but now it's time to move on except for some braindead hippies who just refuse to accept the realities.

Re:BDFL (5, Insightful)

JensenDied (1009293) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196018)

where does open source mean unpaid?

Re:BDFL (0, Offtopic)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196214)

Everybody pile in the flower themed VW bus and fire up the bong! We're off to Linuxstock 2.0.

Re:BDFL (1)

weeboo0104 (644849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196398)

I don't know about Kernel developers and Linuxstock, but you might find certain Slackware personalities here. [google.com]

Re:BDFL (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196552)

Comrade! You can pile into the Microsoft paddywagon and go off to Vista Gulag if you prefer!

Re:BDFL (4, Interesting)

the_womble (580291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196616)

No, it proves that open source is a good business model that is becoming widely accepted.

Incidentally, why is this supposed to be news - I thought that any one who knew anything about open source knew this, and that only stupid journalists get it wrong [pietersz.co.uk]

Re:BDFL (2, Interesting)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196362)

BDFL is the term used to describe Guido Van Rossum, the creator of Python. He maintains control over what does and does not go into the Python language.

Linus takes a different approach, and has said that the releases are "Linus's tree", and if you are unhappy with it, you are welcome to release your own! His approach is a little less tightly controlled than that of BDFL.

Isn't it a little desperate? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18195624)

...to search in the kernel source repository for FUD which Slashdot seems to need so much?

Re:Isn't it a little desperate? (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196800)

Aw, comeon bro. This is by far one of the most interesting articles I've seen here in some time. The statistics bear out so many important implications for linux and OSS in general. Did you mean Elmer FUDD by chance? If so, maybe the conlusion we can draw from this release now that it's finalized is "West and wewaxation at wast! ah hu hu hu hu"

SCO? (4, Funny)

fluch (126140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195644)

...did neither contribute nor pay?! Strange...

Re:SCO? (4, Funny)

Poppler (822173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195864)

Luckily, Sony appears to be a major contributer. Look's like we'll FINALLY see their rootkit ported to Linux.

I miss MS! (1)

pato101 (851725) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196186)

Oh, wait, they've been busy with Vista.

Re:SCO? (3, Interesting)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196432)

The Slashdot QOTD monkey produced the following:

Knowledge is power -- knowledge shared is power lost. -- Aleister Crowley

Interesting how much was conributed by paid devs (1)

Banzai042 (948220) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195670)

I find it interesting just how much was contributed by paid devs. It makes sense when you consider that some companies probably would like to see linux able to replace windows completely in the office, and paying devs to help create a more usable linux could well be a money saver in the long run. It should be interesting to see if this trends upward over the next few releases.

Re:Interesting how much was conributed by paid dev (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195770)

Often it's not that the employers dedicate staff to work on the kernel. It's that they hit a snag and contribute the time so they can go about using the kernel.

Tom

Re:Interesting how much was conributed by paid dev (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195938)

RedHat, Novell and IBM all have dedicated staffs that do nothing but work on the Linux kernel. These are the only companies I know of for sure, but they are also at the top of those contributor lists.

Re:Interesting how much was conributed by paid dev (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196702)

Should point out they fix a lot of bugs reported externally. But obviously my comment meant for those who don't supply linux distros, like Broadcom, Atmel, and the like.

Tom

Re:Interesting how much was conributed by paid dev (-1, Troll)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196170)

That's a nice theory, but if true, then Linux is full of "snags" and it won't see greater adoption until it stops being a steaming pile of dogshit. For every company that finds a bug painful enough that they dedicate a team to fixing it, there will be hundreds/thousands more companies that decide linux is a turd that can't be polished. For home users, the ratio is even worse.

Re:Interesting how much was conributed by paid dev (1, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196558)

You sir are why I disapprove of unlicensed breeding.

Snags could include things like "driver not working" to "driver not present/existing", etc. Snag doesn't mean "Linus is a shit head, fucked up the kernel and now I gotsta fix it." Snag just means something that isn't working yet.

If you look at a lot of non-distro patches, they're from people who ran into some problem or another.

Tom

Re:Interesting how much was conributed by paid dev (0, Offtopic)

TommydCat (791543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196930)

Often it's not easy to relay this distinction to management, as they're mostly interested with the bottom line of how much would it cost to implement x solution compared to the cost of implementing y solution. They mostly don't have time or don't care about the politics underlying either deployment unless they have received a directive that "our shop uses y solution. period."

Do you have a copy of your parents' breeding license prominently displayed or do you merely inject oppressive language about others into random statements? I fail to understand how your single disagreement with a view of another person lessens their worth as a human being.

Re: Not really that interesting or surprising (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196770)

I don't see how this is such a surprise. Generally speaking the best devs are employed. Wonks that complain about "The Man" and "The Corporation" are just mental gimps that never rose above the ordinary sheeple to join those that could produce something people were willing to pay for.

And 90% of the time these paid devs are in the code because some wonk didn't know what they were doing and the code needs to be FIXED.

I originally had high hopes for open source, but as time goes on the reality is that everyone needs to make a buck to pay the rent and put food on the table. And that is where most of their attention goes. Even these so called OSS elite are making money off of OSS writing books, giving talks, doing contract work, creating add-ons, etc all off of OSS. It's an industry even though they like to hide behind a phony curtain of pseudo-ethics.

Re:Interesting how much was conributed by paid dev (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196560)

That, or some salaries could be used for a tax write-off, or goodwill/PR. I've heard of it happening every now and then.

Define "volunteer." (5, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195674)

TFA: "It is not uncommon to see Linux referred to as a volunteer-created system, as opposed to the corporate-sponsored, proprietary alternatives. There has been little research, however, into how much work on Linux is truly 'volunteer' - done on a hacker's spare, unpaid time. In general, the assumption that Linux is created by volunteers is simply accepted."

Thing is, even though some of those changes were done by programmers in the course of their paid jobs, isn't the work still being "volunteered," albeit by the company rather than an individual? As companies, Red Hat, IBM, Novell, or Big Roy's Heating and Plumbing don't need to help improve the kernel, nor are they directly paid for their work on it. They simply do so because a better Linux kernel does benefit them directly or indirectly, as do many individual volunteers.

Re:Define "volunteer." (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18195792)

They mean "volunteer" in the sense that's completely obvious from the context, not in any sense derived from Pointless Nerd Hairsplitting.

Re:Define "volunteer." (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18195986)

not in any sense derived from Pointless Nerd Hairsplitting.
Oh, sorry, I thought this was SlashDot.

Re:Define "volunteer." (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195822)

Thing is, even though some of those changes were done by programmers in the course of their paid jobs, isn't the work still being "volunteered,"
No because large corporations like Oracle, and in particular IBM do little or nothing which does not benefit them somehow. So the work is not volunteered, it is a component of an agenda.

Re:Define "volunteer." (3, Insightful)

krlynch (158571) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195958)

So the work is not volunteered, it is a component of an agenda.

Doesn't the same argument apply to non-monetarily-compensated "volunteers"? Don't they have an agenda as well?

Re:Define "volunteer." (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196066)

Exactly. Most of the driver development in the early days were done by people who -- gasp, shock -- had that particular piece of hardware and needed it to work with the Linux kernel. Much driver development is *still* done that way, although some driver work is now sponsored by companies who develop the hardware (i.e., Broadcom)

Most everyone working on the kernel has an agenda and that's okay -- open source isn't about communism or pure philanthropy, it's more of a libertarian or anarchocapitalist philosophy.

Re:Define "volunteer." (4, Insightful)

prelelat (201821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196014)

I don't agree with your standpoint. I do think that IBM Oracle and other companies benifit from this kind of program. On the other hand most people benifit in some way from contributing code to linux in the first place. People use it for experiance to get a job, to make the OS that they run better, to be apart of something and make themselves feel better. Just because a company is volenteering programmers to the cause because its benifiting them doesn't mean its not volenteering. Its like saying donating to linux because you want it to work better for you so that you can produce more money is not really a donation.

Most people donate, volenteer for something because they know it will benifit them in the end(how many people at Harvard who have volenteering on their application to the school volenteered because it was something they wanted to do, I would guess half does that make their time in a soup kitchen less valuable or appreciated?). This doesn't mean that its any less noble in the end.

Re:Define "volunteer." (2, Insightful)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196110)

Volunteer does not HAVE to mean without compensation, it means without coercion, of their own free will. Many volunteers are not compensted for their efforts, but others are. The people who join the U.S. military are volunteers, but they do get paid during their term of service and they do get other benefits. No less volunteers, just compensated volunteers.

Re:Define "volunteer." (1)

linguizic (806996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196414)

Why am I not a volunteer at my current job then? I'm not challenging your definition, I think it's an interesting point. I just think it needs to be refined a little.

Re:Define "volunteer." (2, Funny)

bad_fx (493443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195898)

Is it sad that I actually went carefully back through the article to see how much "Big Roy's Heating and Plumbing" had actually contributed.....? :-/

Re:Define "volunteer." (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195930)

Thing is, even though some of those changes were done by programmers in the course of their paid jobs, isn't the work still being "volunteered," albeit by the company rather than an individual?

If my large copy jobs are routinely late and I call Officemax and tell them they need to get their heads out of their asses, fire the guy responsible, and get me my stuff on time; am I volunteering my free consulting services to Officemax? It is all a matter of perspective. The term "volunteer" in our culture generally carries implications of altruism rather than self interest. The important point to take away from this is that despite the common perception otherwise, most Linux development is done for profit, even if that profit is not accumulated in so direct a manner as selling the OS.

Re:Define "volunteer." (4, Insightful)

VWJedi (972839) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196212)

The term "volunteer" in our culture generally carries implications of altruism rather than self interest.

If you put it that way, no one is a "volunteer developer" for linux. They write / change code for their own benefit (to add features, improve functionality). Once they've finished, they usually give their code to "the linux community", but the reason they do the work in the first place is because they want to fix / improve the way their system runs.

Re:Define "volunteer." (2, Insightful)

iabervon (1971) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196064)

For Red Hat and IBM, it's not really any more "volunteer" work than any corporate development work. Nobody pays Microsoft to write new versions of Office; they write them so that they can try to sell them. Big Roy's H&P and Google are unusual in contributing changes they made for internal use.

Re:Define "volunteer." (1)

dexomsrc (1057714) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196134)

Thing is, even though some of those changes were done by programmers in the course of their paid jobs, isn't the work still being "volunteered," albeit by the company rather than an individual? As companies, Red Hat, IBM, Novell, or Big Roy's Heating and Plumbing don't need to help improve the kernel, nor are they directly paid for their work on it. They simply do so because a better Linux kernel does benefit them directly or indirectly, as do many individual volunteers.

This shouldn't be so much a debate about the technicalities of labeling the code contributions to the Linux kernel as "volunteered" or not, so much as it is an interesting discussion and analysis of the current state of the ratio of bugfixes/features that were written by someone paid for their work vs. an ambitious hacker taking on the task on their own spare time.

Of course the contributions made by any one person or company to the Linux kernel are not going to be paid for in the same way that a Microsoft employee's bugfix to the NT 6 kernel will be directly funded by the sizable cash reserves of that corporation. But that's because of how each of those respective software projects are licensed, the Linux kernel obviously being licensed under the GPL, ultimately causing no one to "own" that code and thus no central financial entity to fund every single contribution to the project (even though each contribution is technically still copyrighted by the respective programmer, GPLed code for all intents and purposes is owned by all because of the freedom to fork).

So, what is the remarkable information that this breakdown of Linux contribution funding tells us? That even though such code is known by each of the listen publicly traded corporations to be licensed under the GPL, that there will be no direct monetary compensation from a non-existent universal Linux code contribution funder, that it is still worth paying their employees to make whatever contributions they desire, or see to their advantage.

The biggest news to my mind is something that many of us have known for quite some time now: that the GPL works. This is a direct acknowledgment that although such code is not restricted by any sort of proprietary license, that the liberation of the market is too attractive for a wide variety of big-name technology companies to not dive directly in to the community themselves in order to aid in the process of creating and improving what is now easily the most viable alternative to any proprietary operating system, be it Windows, UNIX, or Mac OS X.

Re:Define "volunteer."...anonymous work (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196902)

Outside of the fantasy land of the naîve peter pan type, most "volunteering" is corporate base. Even situations that seem obvious. For exmaple, many people the to the corporal entity that is the church, not out an obvious sense of volunteering, but to receive the tenfold reward. I doubt that United Way would not receive anywhere near they money they get, and built their many corporate branches in many major cities, without the pressure of local employers upon the employees, all fearful of losing their jobs. Likewise, most volunteer based community events are voluntarily sponsored by a large doner, staffed by other corporate based for profit based organizations, all in hopes of free publicity, which the event happily provides with huge banners, announcements, and other publicity.

The cool thing about this situation is that the OS does not pop up a banner ad every time a piece of code from IBM is used. You do not have to click through a number of pages acknowledging the work that each company contributed. Simply because so much of the contributions are annonymous indicates that this is truly a volunteer effort.

oh noes.... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195680)

Linux doesn't support floppy tape anymore... ftape got removed...

Re:oh noes.... (2, Informative)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195814)

IIRC, ftape was for implementing some of the older tape drives. I had a hell of time trying to get a tape drive running under Linux 10 years ago. I think the maximum tape size for that drive was 40MB. Never did get it to work reliably. Back then, you pretty much had to roll your own kernel for everything.

Re:oh noes.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196360)

My gawd, if you're still using floppy tape, you deserve to be scared shitless.

2 words for you, you cheap bastard: upgrade.

Re:oh noes.... (1)

larien (5608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196536)

I'm sure both people who actually used it are gutted...

Re:oh noes.... (2, Insightful)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196674)

Call me a number crunching freak, but I personally found this the most interesting aspect of the article:

Jeff Garzik comes out on top of this particular measurement by virtue of having deleted the long-unmaintained floppy tape subsystem.
garnishing a 6% slice of "shovel and shuck duty" for that one, and then couple that metric with the one following showing Jeff atop the leaderboard with 12.4% for "most lines removed". That tells me this guy is blood and guts knee deep in the trenches. After porting a legacy system to linux for the Navy myself some time ago, I gotta give mad props to this guy. I feel your pain and salute you! Of course, I'm still standing at attention for all the other devs too.

Fairly Interesting Overview (1)

liliafan (454080) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195692)

It was pretty interesting reading this article, I was rather shocked to see that there was no mention of code contributed to M$ (joke for you ms fan boys)

Actually in all seriousness, I didn't realise how much of the code was contributed by companies, I was fairly suprised to see broadcom had donated so much code, since I have had quite a few problems with getting their hardware working on linux in the past. I don't know if this is a new thing for them to be contributing code to get their hardware working better, or if this just bad luck on my part that their hardware never seems to work for me on my boxes.

All in all an interesting read.

Re:Fairly Interesting Overview (1)

liliafan (454080) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195720)

Correction, by M$, must remember to use the preview button.

Re:Fairly Interesting Overview (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195850)

Not really your fault.
Every other message site I'm on let's me edit messages.

Re:Fairly Interesting Overview (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195908)

Why is it shocking. Red Hat, IBM, and Novell hope to make a lot of money from Linux.
Then you have the expensive systems that use Linux
Intel and HP are still hopping that the Itantium will work out in the end and frankly Linux is the big OS for the Itantium. Not to many hobbiest have an Itantium sitting around so Intel and HP probably contribute a lot of code for the Itantium port.
IBM sells a lot of Power systems that run Linux so they probably contributed a lot of code to support the new Power6. Not to mention the the 360/370/Zmachine port.
Then you have Mips contributing for the embedded market.
Linux is now big business.

Re:Fairly Interesting Overview (1)

liliafan (454080) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195996)

:o) The shocking part was just about Microsoft.

I was just suprised that more code seems to come from companies than from individuals. I can understand the reasoning for it, I just didn't realise just quite how seriously some of these companies were working on Linux.

I can see the interest in it for Redhat, Novell, et al. I know than IBM has a very deep interest in linux succeeding, it was some of the other companies on the list that I found interesting such as SGI.

Re:Fairly Interesting Overview (3, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196334)

SGI is interesting but I seem to remember that they dropped IRIX and are going to Linux everywhere. They also have some really nice expensive systems that I doubt that many hobbyist have sitting around.
In fact if you go to their home page you will see them right on the front page and yes they run Linux.
People want to run Linux on their servers and HPC clusters. If you want to sell servers and HPC clusters that run Linux you better make sure that Linux supports all the cool stuff that sets you apart from a bunch of Intel white boxes.
The fastest way to do that is to write it yourself.

Re:Fairly Interesting Overview (3, Interesting)

mbrod (19122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196342)

Having recently switched over my M$ box to pure Ubuntu, no dual boot. I was thinking there had to be serious money and talent behind everything now as opposed to about 7 years ago when I last messed with Linux much. Everything just works so good now and requires minimal configuration. Mucho thanks to all those individuals and companies who contribute in any way.

Re:Fairly Interesting Overview (2, Informative)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196584)

I didn't realise how much of the code was contributed by companies
Reading the changelogs, and the files in the source Documentation directory, on a semi-regular basis provides enlightening insight into the diversity and number of people who regularly make contributions to the Linux kernel. It truly is a sign of the success of GNU/FSF mindset.

I was fairly suprised to see broadcom had donated so much code
Many companies have different motivations for donating code. Sometimes a company may donate alpha code in the interest of testing its applicability and integratability. Sometimes a company may donate old code in order to appease a market which sufficiently supports profit margin, indirectly, through use and advertising. Sometimes a company may even donate commercial code for PR or because the open source community holds the largest population percentage of people who will likely work with it.

Corporations are not all bad and neither are they all good. Every move is carefully planned and executed based upon a number of considerations--some of which may even be at odds against each other. Knowing how to appeal to the greatest number of consumers in the greatest number of market sectors is usually a sign of a company which is agile and successful.

Re:Fairly Interesting Overview (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196724)

Not just bad luck; I see the irony happen all the time. My ISP INSISTS on support of Microsoft only - I literally have to lie to them or my service would be terminated, and they are a monopoly in my area. So, what's running embedded inside my broadband router? Linux. What's running their company server? Linux. What does the manufacturer of the router recommend? According to their site, their hardware is designed to run on anything, including Linux, they even have step-by-step instructions for installing to Red Hat. Could the fact that MSN is bundled with the ISP's modem installation disks (for Windows) have anything to do with this curious situation?

What? (-1, Flamebait)

Quantam (870027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195696)

Microsoft didn't make the list? How disappointing.

Re:What? (1)

Damastus the WizLiz (935648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195866)

*puts on tinfoil hat* The unknown on the list is actualy Microsoft employees inserting microsoft code. *removes tinfoil hat*

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18195998)

But that would make it non-infringing code...

Re:What? (1)

Damastus the WizLiz (935648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196500)

not if microsoft can hid its roll in the addition of the code.

Re:What? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196070)

The "Microsoft Rules!" comments in the source code don't count.

Funding... (3, Insightful)

Needs Food Badly (995632) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195716)

It's really quite interesting the amount of funding that is sent in the direction of the devs working on the Linux kernel. I'm curious what would happen if the funding was spontaneously cut. Linux was built from scratch and supported for free back in the day, but would the main developers continue to work or even be interested at all if they weren't being paid?

Re:Funding... (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196940)

> I'm curious what would happen if the funding was spontaneously cut.

Interesting. The horse came before the cart here though. If that cart were no longer attached, I'm quite sure a lot of other OSS programming studs would assume the reigns.

Quite a paradox (4, Insightful)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195746)

...the list of companies sponsoring kernel development has a surprise or two.... a number of the widely-expressed opinions about kernel development turn out to be true.

So... the surprise is that there is no surprise?

Re:Quite a paradox (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196190)

Sure it is. It can well be a surprise that something is true, even though there are people who believe it.

My wife attended a board meeting of a government agency some years ago in which the IT people were trying to convince the board (who had all been appointed with an agenda to cut costs) that the agency had to buy this new category of software called "anti-virus". The board grilled the poor guys, and finally turned them down, stating that "There is no danger, because the integrity of the systems will protect them from viruses." By which they meant that they'd spent too damn much on IT already, and given the amount they had spent already, it had better damn work.

Now, everybody else in the room would have been very surprised if the board had been proven right.

You have to consider this: there are many people who built their careers in an era of proprietary software. Proprietary as in property. That means you never share software with people who might in turn share it with your competitors, any more than you share your bank account.

The arguments that companies should share software sounds to their ears as absurd as the argument that "the integrity of the systems will protect them from viruses."

Nice Study, Twisted Conclusions. (1, Insightful)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196448)

The surprise is how twisted this study is. The author ignored the opinion of authors to concentrate on email addresses and the main conclusion is that 65% of kernel developers have a job. That people able to contribute to the Linux kernel would have a job is not much of a surprise. Ignoring the opinion of those you are trying to study is.

So, let me quote all the relevent sections to back up what I have said.

Finding an answer to that question is somewhat trickier than looking at who wrote the patches, mostly because very few developers say "I wrote this on behalf of my employer."

Any patch whose author's given email address indicates a corporate affiliation is assumed to have been developed by an employee of that corporation. So any patch posted by somebody with an ibm.com email address is accounted as having been done by an IBM employee.

Either way, the results come out about the same: at least 65% of the code which went into 2.6.20 was created by people working for companies. If the entire "unknown" group turns out to be developers working on a volunteer basis - an unlikely result - then just over 1/3 of the 2.6.20 patch stream was written by volunteers.

The statistics are all very nice, but the conclusion is forced. I'd go with the opinion of the authors themselves, code is still not being written on behalf of companies.

That's an unfortunate conclusion and things are changing. When free software takes the place of non free, the entire mechanism now "supporting" M$ and others will switch to free software authorship. When that happens hardware makers will step up to the plate with free drivers and contribute significant code. Many already do this. User feedback will still be important and of high quality, so the actual distribution of "this code paid for by Broadcom" vrs, "this code from Broadcom fixed by 101 happy users" is still hard for someone like me to predict.

GPL vs. BSD (4, Insightful)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195752)

Overall, the picture is of a broad-based and well-supported development community.

It is just confirmation of old statement that GPL(v2) provides better (at moment best) ground for cooperation between vendors.

Many companies are willing to control what OS does with their software and hardware - and Linux gives them that chance on cheap. But even more so, GPL allows Linux to "merge" back possible code base "forks". That's next to impossible with BSD licensed code most tend to keep closed.

Let's just hope Linux would be able to go on surviving the "snowball" effect of the merges.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (2, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195914)

Why can't you merge changes back to BSD-licensed code? A BSD-licensed driver which makes it into the kernel is probably going to stay BSD-licensed, isn't it? Wouldn't that mean that changes to that driver could remain BSD?

If someone's been taking BSD-licensed code and changing the license to GPL when it goes into the kernel tree, that's kinda lousy, in my opinion.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196000)

Why can't you merge changes back to BSD-licensed code?

Because when Microsoft makes ftp.exe using BSD-licensed code, all they have to do is tell people that it had BSD-licensed code, not give them the code nor the changes they made. Or, take a look at the various commercial forks of postgres that add replication, live backups, or whatever. Sure, it'd be nice if they gave these features back to the postgresql database server, but the developers chose the BSD license knowing that the people who do stuff with the code don't have to give back.

This is why the GPL makes code Free, while the BSD license makes programmers Free.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (1)

rho (6063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196410)

Or it makes programmers paid. If you spend the time and money to turn Postgres into a useful replicated RDBMS, it is useful to be able to capitalize on your work, if you so choose. It is harder to do so if you cannot protect your code. If you can make your business work just on consulting fees, great. Give the code back. Maybe you can't. So being able to keep your code proprietary is helpful.

Neither way is perfect, so having both is a boon.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196502)

You are right, but some of the more prominent examples in OSS using GPL software, actually aren't consistent in it.

Both Trolltech (Qt toolkit) and MySQL license their code both as GPL and commercial license. So they will gladly take any change anybody makes to the application under GPL, but they will license that bunch of code out to anybody who pays *them*. The people who extend and improve MySQL with GPL code don't see a dime, while MySQL makes a nice profit.

IMHO that isn't really the coolest behavior, which is why I avoid Qt and MySQL.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195942)

It is just confirmation of old statement that GPL(v2) provides better (at moment best) ground for cooperation between vendors.

I'd be interested to know what (if any) type of pressure can be brought on by vendors that support such a large (65%+) share of kernel development. For example, is IBM or HP one day going to submit a patch that brings some sort of DRM into the kernel? Or some other pet change that they fancy? And what will happen when someone like Cox says "no"? Will they withdraw their support, send an email to their developers and say "stop working on Linux while on our dime"? How long would it take for that loss to be compensated for by people working on their own time?

I can't see how this would happen, but then this is a fairly new development model, at least as far as the corporations are concerned. They still have shareholders and interests to answer to.

That's next to impossible with BSD licensed code most tend to keep closed.

The fact that no one is writing up an analysis for one of the BSDs doesn't mean they do not benefit from the same type of contributions. In many ways corporations are more amenable to BSD.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196074)

The company could keep their own patch set with DRM added and use it internally if that's what they want. But they could not force the kernel maintainer to include their patches in the vanilla kernel. That said, there's no reason that the maintainer couldn't accept the patches and make their inclusion a kernel config option.

Actually, if the patches are well written, that's what I'd expect to have happen.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (0, Flamebait)

mrsbrisby (60242) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196472)

For example, is IBM or HP one day going to submit a patch that brings some sort of DRM into the kernel?

The fact that no one is writing up an analysis for one of the BSDs doesn't mean they do not benefit from the same type of contributions.
No, it means that nobody cares. Work on the *BSDs is charity work.

In many ways corporations are more amenable to BSD.
BSD culture and development wouldn't change in the slightest if the *BSDs were in the public domain because corporations like the attribution and advertising clauses.

I met a sales guy who sold 60,000$US imaging systems on the promise that they weren't a four man shop but instead- "had licensed all this software and intellectual property" blah blah blah- which made them seem a lot bigger than they were.

The real fact is that in the long-term, BSD benefits the dishonest and amoral. If consumers realized this, they might avoid doing business with dishonest companies.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196320)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I almost believed that one for a second.

Perhaps you should look at Apache, Perl, Python, PostgreSQL... (All either BSD or BSD Like Licensed)

I am not bashing GPL here, but your statement is completely wrong.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196340)

Your theory ignores binary-only drivers.

Re:GPL vs. BSD (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196570)

It is just confirmation of old statement that GPL(v2) provides better (at moment best) ground for cooperation between vendors.

Not even slightly. FreeBSD has plenty of vnedor support as well.

But even more so, GPL allows Linux to "merge" back possible code base "forks". That's next to impossible with BSD licensed code most tend to keep closed.

Not at all. Following the strictest of definitions of the GPL, you can easily create something that is difficult or near impossible to merge back into the base code. This was a big complaint of KHTML developers with Apple.

Those who contribute back do it because they want to, NOT because they are FORCED to.

Whats more the BSD license allows MORE people and companies to use the software for more purposes... RMS understands this, and gave the okay to Xiph.org to BSD Vorbis and Theora... If you're forced to release the source, you're prevented from using it in a lot of places.

As such, I can think of many BSD (and MIT) licensed programs that have become defacto standards (eg. Telnet, FTP, SMTP, DNS, NFS, SSH, and many more) but none that were GPL licensed... How many can you think of?

Sure, you can GPL your high-tech encrypted network filesystem, and force everyone who uses it to release their code changes, but as a results, you'll just not get ANYONE using it to begin with. No matter how much better than NFS it might be, it will be soon forgotten, and you can continue to be smug about how the GPL help you stop others from stealing your code...

(Note: Use whatever license you want, but don't make moronic claims about how perfect your choice is over someone else's.)

Project Maintainers don't write much code... (3, Informative)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195772)

At this point, Linus is the head maintainer of Linux 2.6 [kernel.org] , so the majority of the work he does is accepting patches, arguing in the mailing lists [lkml.org] , and talking with the other main programmers and "sub-maintainers" (I don't know if they get a special name or anything).

He doesn't need to write code for the kernel to be important at this point. Besides, he contributes code to other things like git (an SCM) [kernel.org] and GNOME [linux.com] .

Re:Project Maintainers don't write much code... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196298)

Exactly, he manages the coding. He coordinates the integration of changes, so that they all work together nicely, despite there being thousands of these changes.

That's a really demanding, important, and stressful job I imagine.

While I don't always share Linus's opinions (generally; I'm just a Linux user, no dev), I'm very thankful for the job he does.

Secretlab? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195862)

Anyone know who Secretlab is? Certainly a cool company name.

Re:Secretlab? (1)

Erich (151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195918)

According to www.secretlab.ca [secretlab.ca] , it is a consulting company.

Re:Secretlab? (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196040)

That's certainly a very information-packed page. Thanks for the link.

Re:Secretlab? (2, Funny)

diggory (264503) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196072)

Of course they don't - it's a secret.

No Real Surprises (2, Insightful)

giminy (94188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195900)

I work in government, and talk with RedHat and IBM all the time about linux. When the article summary touted "a few surprises," I thought, "RedHat and IBM aren't the biggest contributors?" Turns out there was no surprise, after all...they're the top attributable contributors. Is anyone else surprised by this?

Re:No Real Surprises (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196332)

Well, I was slightly surprised by RedHat being listed above IBM, as I'm told IBM has more people working on improving Linux than RedHat has employees. I'm guessing that either a lot of IBM folk were in the "unknown" categories, or that lots of IBM work is now going into stuff other than just the kernel.

[Opinions mine, not IBM's.]

Re:No Real Surprises (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196516)

Nope... all the contributors are laboring away so that RedHat and IBM can make more money. Just think of all the developers that those two companies are getting for free!

Red Hat / Pure Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196546)

I find the amount contributed by Red Hat very disturbing, considering they are selling an abortion of Linux, the instability of Fedora, and general lack of adherence to standards.

The end result of this trend could be very bad for the future of Linux and good for Red Hat's profits. In their case the two are definitely mutually exclusive.

I find it intriguing ... (2, Interesting)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195954)

... that "corporate America" takes so much bashing on /., and Linux (which is deified in these same boards) is so dependent on those same evil capitalist entities for its very survival. This brings to mind the old catch-phrase "biting the hand that feeds you", doesn't it?

Re:I find it intriguing ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196238)

I find it intriguing that "corporate America" takes so much bashing on /.,...

The same could be said of government. Very few people would argue for entirely abolishing either government or corporations. Many people would argue for placing limits on the power of governments and corporations (checks and balances).

This brings to mind the old catch-phrase "biting the hand that feeds you", doesn't it?

Most people are extremely dependent on the government (roads, military, courts, etc.). Does that mean that they are "biting the hand that feeds them" when they argue for limited government?

Re:I find it intriguing ... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196658)

Tens of thousands of mouths.

Re:I find it intriguing ... (1)

ZeroConcept (196261) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196756)

You are using a logical fallacy (false dilemma):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma [wikipedia.org]

Corporations have positives and negatives in different degrees. Having one does not dismiss the other, unless you watched so many "The Real World" shows that you convinced yourself people are that uni-dimensional.

Re:I find it intriguing ... (2, Funny)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196986)

I find it intriguing ... that "corporate America" takes so much bashing on /., and Linux (which is deified in these same boards) is so dependent on those same evil capitalist entities for its very survival

This may surprise you (intrigue you?), but Slashdot is not one person with one set of opinions. Even the editors do not collectively form one person. If they did, though, that person would probably have to wear a helmet at all times, and would constantly have drool running down its handi-capable face.

What's wrong with 'I'? (2, Insightful)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18195984)

Your poster did not like the author's odd reluctance to use the word "I".

We're doomed! (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196038)

No more ftape? Say it ain't so?

uni (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196082)

dont forget about the university students who submit patches as part of their CS studies.

Interesting... (1)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196102)

What's interesting is the amount of code by corporate contributors such as Astaro, Tensilica, Secretlab, NetXen and others that we normally don't hear about. While certainly a bit of those are driver work - but I'm certainly happy to see the participation. And, yes.. even Sony dropped in some PS3 platform code.

Broadcom (3, Interesting)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196138)

It's a shame they didn't contribute the firmware for their wireless cards.

Interesting idea, but hardly accurate (3, Insightful)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196148)

From TFA

Finding an answer to that question is somewhat trickier than looking at who wrote the patches, mostly because very few developers say "I wrote this on behalf of my employer." The approach taken by your editor was relatively simplistic, but, perhaps, the best that is practical. Any patch whose author's given email address indicates a corporate affiliation is assumed to have been developed by an employee of that corporation. So any patch posted by somebody with an ibm.com email address is accounted as having been done by an IBM employee.

While I still find the result interesting, and while I also would like to know which organizations contribute the most to the kernel, I don't know that this method is really a good way to reflect whether the work was done in a "sponsored" fashion.

That is, just because someone's email address shows that they're from IBM, doesn't necessarily mean that they were being paid by IBM to explicitly work on the kernel. For all we know, they might have "15 minutes of real, actual work" like this guy [wikipedia.org] and are just hacking away in their cube because they're bored. Maybe not, but still, for he purpose of determining which companies contribute most (or the individuals motivations to contribute), that seems like a shaky method of proving or disproving things.

Re:Interesting idea, but hardly accurate (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196356)

On the other hand, if you are using your work email address for things you are doing that have nothing to do with the company, you are just asking for trouble.

I'm sure there are some that weren't 'sponsored', but for the most part, I think it's a pretty safe assumption to make.

Noted and logged (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196400)

Sure, it's not guaranteed accurate. In fact, the article actually mentions this caveat in the next paragraph:

In many cases, the situation is probably more complicated than that; one assumes, for example, that a certain kernel hacker's employer has not directed him to hack on Battle for Wesnoth. When looking only at kernel code, however, crediting all work to the employer is probably relatively safe.

Considering that webhosts are still on 2.4..... (2, Insightful)

midnighttoadstool (703941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196158)

It seems they got paid for what they were asked to do.

And somebody... (0, Offtopic)

the_greywolf (311406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196200)

... fucked up the libata SATA drivers. There's a deadlock that some of us have been hitting, but I have no idea what it is.

Intellectual Property (0, Flamebait)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18196272)

It turns out that most kernel code is contributed by people paid to do the work

And this is one of the problems associated with open source: Many people get paid to do work, but the work they are paid to do is not kernel development for the open source community. That is, some developers are paid to develop software for Big Company and they end up using the knowledge gained there on the companies dime to develop open source on the side. So Big Company gets pissy when their proprietary technology makes its way into open source and lawsuits have arose [technocrat.net] due to this.

Cononical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18196850)

Aren't they are a for profit company? I thought that will all of the Ubuntu users that they would be supporting some kernel development?
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