April 03, 2012, 3:28 PM — Linux powers countless smartphones, TVs, supercomputers, financial transactions, and websites around the globe--not to mention desktops--but the fact remains that most of us have no real idea where it comes from.
Ready for a surprise? For the first time since the Linux Foundation began producing this annual report four years ago, Microsoft now appears on the list of current contributors at No. 17, meaning that it contributed roughly 1% of the changes made to the kernel since the release of Linux 2.6.36 in late 2010.
For a company that once called Linux a "cancer," that's pretty impressive.
8,000 Developers from 800 Companies
The kernel at the core of the Linux OS is the result of one of the largest cooperative software projects ever attempted, the Linux Foundation points out.
New releases come out every two to three months featuring between 8,000 and 12,000 changes from more than 1,000 developers representing nearly 200 corporations.
Close to 8,000 individual developers from 800 or so companies have contributed to the kernel since 2005, and the majority of them--60%, to be exact--come from a top 10 set of contributors. Included among those are individuals not sponsored by any company--accounting for roughly 18% of the changes--along with developers working for Red Hat, Novell, Intel, IBM, Oracle, and Nokia.