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Who’s Moving Linux Ahead

Posted by hosttycoon On August - 23 - 2009

linux-foundation“How fast Linux is going?”, “Who is doing it?, “What developers are doing?”, and “Who is sponsoring it”. The answers of these an many other questions can be found in the latest report released by The Linux Foundation. It provides details about the development of the kernel which forms the core of the Linux OS. The foundation said that the development of the Linux kernel is a “result of one of the largest cooperative software projects ever attempted”. According to the Report, the regular kernel development releases deliver stable updates to Linux users, each with significant new features, added device support, and improved performance. “The rate of change in the kernel is high and increasing, with over 10,000 patches going into each recent kernel release. These releases each contain the work of over 1,000 developers representing around 200 corporations” says the Report.

Since 2005, more than 5,000 developers from nearly 500 different companies contributed to the Linux kernel. The kernel, thus, has become a common resource developed on a massive scale by companies which are fierce competitors in other areas. A number of changes have been noted since this paper was first published in 2008. One of them is that a 10% increase in the number of developers contributing to each kernel release cycle. The rate of change increased significantly and the number of lines of code added to the kernel each day tripled. Since 2005 the kernel code base has grown by over 2.7 million lines. For the last 4 years Linux established a robust development community which “continues to grow both in size and in productivity”, as “The Linux Foundation” reported.

The Linux kernel is the lowest software level which runs on a Linux OS. It is used to manage the hardware, to run user programs, and to maintain the overall security and integrity of the whole operating system. This is the kernel that, after its release by Linus Torvalds in 1991, inspired millions to join the development of Linux OS and applications for Linux as a whole. The kernel is a relatively small part of the software on a full Linux system. Many other large components of the OS come from the GNU project, the GNOME and KDE desktop projects, the X.org project, and etc. But the kernel is the core of the OS which  determines how well the Operating system works and is the piece which is truly unique to Linux.

The Linux kernel is one of the largest individual components on almost any Linux OS. It features one of the fastest-moving development processes and involves more developers than any other Open Source project. The Linux Foundation said  that since 2005, kernel development history is well documented, thanks to the use of the Git source code management system.

The Linux Kernel Development

The Linux OS kernel is developing by the community on a loose, time-based model. New major kernel releases occur every 2 to 3 months. The model has been formalized in 2005. It works fine for the Linux users because they get all new features into the main kernel with a minimum of delay. The model is based on the concept that the pace of  kernel development should be as fast as it is possible. Another advantage is that the distributors of the Linux OS shall apply a minimum number of external changes.

A significant change in the most recent release of the kernel that Linux Foundation reported in its latest paper is the establishment of the linux-next tree.

“Linux-next serves as a staging area for the next kernel development cycle; as of this writing, 2.6.31 is in the stabilization phase, so linux-next contains changes intended for 2.6.32. This repository gives developers a better view of which changes are coming in the future and helps them to ensure that there will be a minimum of integration problems when the next development cycle begins. Linux-next smooths out the development cycle, helping it to scale to higher rates of change”, says the Linux Foundation report.

It also explains that after each mainline 2.6 release, the kernel’s “stable team” – currently made up of Greg Kroah-Hartman and Chris Wright – takes up short-term maintenance to apply important fixes. The stable process ensures that important fixes are made available to distributors and users and also that they will be part of the next major releases. According to the foundation the stable maintenance period lasts at least 1 development cycle and. However for specific kernel releases it can go significantly longer.

Who Is Moving Linux Ahead?

The numbers show that 18.2% of Linux OS is written by people who aren’t working for any company, and 7.6% is created by programmers who don’t affiliate their contribution with any business entity. Others who write Linux are paid to contribute to the OS. Here are some of the companies which contributed more than 1% of the current Linux kernel: Red Hat: 12.3%; IBM: 7.6%; Novell: 7.6%; Intel: 5.3%’ Independent consultant: 2.5%; Oracle: 2.4%; Linux Foundation: 1.6%; SGI 1.6%; Parallels 1.3%; Renesas Technology, amd etc.

More information can be found in the Linux Foundation’s report – “Linux Kernel Development“.

Open Source Is Already A Political Force

Posted by hosttycoon On February - 26 - 2009

dana-blankenhorn“As I noted last month I have been amused, writing this blog over the years, to watch the political progress of open source”, wrote Dana Blankenhorn in ZDnet blogs. Se adds that when she first started at ZDnet “open source advocates were considered the fringe”. Dana also said something that’s sad but true – that people look at advocates like Richard Stallman and say  “hippie”. It is true that if you explain to someone who knows who Bill Gates is, that Mr. Linux –  Linus Torvalds – is not a billionaire, and this is only because he hadn’t intention to commercialize its intention they would be amazed and would find the idea of Open source ‘creepy”.

But as Dana says “as open source grew, it became a political cause for government”. He’s right. A few years ago two French politicians form the right-wing UMP inspired the French parliament to pass a bill that enforced the use of Open Office (a free Open Source alternative of expensive Microsoft Office program) in public institutions.

Almost at the same time, in 2006, the State of Massachusetts struggled to endorse the ODF file format. When it comes to Open SOurce, especially in United States politicians line up on both sides of each battle.

Read Dana Blankenhorn’s article “Open source becomes irresistible political force” to learn more about his cogerage on Open Source related political battles.