News Archive (1999-2012) | 2013-current at LinuxGizmos | Current Tech News Portal |    About   

Linux kernel gains mobile developer help

Dec 2, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The latest Linux Kernel Development report says mobile developers are increasingly driving kernel contributions. Even as Red Hat, IBM, and Novell continue to dominate Linux kernel development efforts, the increasing popularity of Linux and Android on mobile devices has encouraged more contributions from companies like Nokia and Samsung, says the report.

While server-oriented giants such as IBM, Novell, and Red Hat continue to play the leading role in Linux kernel development, wireless companies and their suppliers are rapidly stepping up, according to a report from the Linux Foundation.

The Linux Kernel Development report, released Dec. 1, examines the development of the kernel, as well as tracks the developers contributing to the project.

Since the report's last update in August 2009, there have been 1.5 million lines of code added to the kernel, at the rate of 9,058 lines added, 4,495 lines removed, and 1,978 lines changed every day, said Linux Foundation's Amanda McPherson (pictured), one of the report's three authors. The other authors were Novell's Greg Kroah-Hartman and's Jonathan Corbet.

More mobile and embedded companies are participating and sponsoring the Linux kernel, according to McPherson, listing mobile device companies like Nokia and Samsung, as well as increasingly mobile-oriented semiconductor companies like Texas Instruments and Renesas.

"This certainly should not be a surprise given the rise of Linux usage in devices over the last few years," wrote McPherson.

Meanwhile, server-oriented firms like Red Hat, IBM, and Novell (soon to be part of Attachmate) remain the three largest corporate sponsors for kernel development. Other leaders include Intel, Oracle, SGI, and Fujitsu, while Google shows up toward the end of the top 20 list shown below.

Top Linux kernel contributor organizations in 2010

Source: Linux Foundation
(Click to enlarge)

With the growing popularity of Google's Linux-based Android operating system for smartphones and other mobile devices, and the interest in Intel's and Nokia's joint MeeGo project for tablets, Linux is becoming a key player in the mobile market.

All the top smartphone makers, excluding Nokia and Apple, have at least one Android phone in their product lineup, and Nokia, which offers the Maemo Linux-based, and soon, MeeGo Linux based Nokia N900 is expected to rollout a slew of MeeGo devices in 2011.

70 percent of kernel work done by paid employees

On average, a new release of the kernel is released every 8 to 12 weeks, or on average, about 81 days, says the report. Over 6,100 individual developers from over 600 companies have contributed code to the kernel since 2005, according to the Linux Foundation. According to the report, "over 70 percent of all kernel development is demonstrably done by developers who are being paid for their work."

The number of developers, participating companies, and the rate code is being added, have been increasing fairly steadily for each release since 2008, according to the report. Yet, the report found that less code was submitted for the latest 2.6.35 release, and the number of developers has also dropped slightly.

Changes to the Linux kernel over time (in number of patches)
Source: Linux Foundation
(Click to enlarge)

There were 11,989 patches for 2.6.30, compared to a mere 9,801 patches for the 2.6.35 release, according to the report. Since 2.6.30, several long-term projects have been completed, the authors noted, including the ext4 and Btrfs filesystems, ftrace and perf events subsystems, and the reimplementation of the graphics layer.

There's a "step back from the frenzied activity" of the 2.6.30 release, according to the report. Indeed, Linux 2.6.35's improvements were fairly modest, while significant features were added to the 2.6.30 release of the kernel in 2009.

"Rates of change will naturally slow as the finishing touches are put on these developments," the authors wrote. "The pace of kernel development as a whole can be expected to increase as developers take on new challenges in the future."

As InternetNews reports, the apparent slowdown may also be tied to new processes for staging code that more accurately reflect the number of code commits.

"I think the staging tree additions have something to do with it since it rather inflated the previous version," the Linux Foundation's McPherson was quoted as saying.


The Linux Foundation Linux Kernel Development report may be found in a PDF, here.

Fahmida Y. Rashid is a writer for our sister publication eWEEK.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

Comments are closed.