The Linux Foundation Releases Annual Kernel Development Report

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This is the eighth such report that is released on a roughly annual basis to help illustrate the Linux kernel development process and the work that defines the largest collaborative project in the history of computing. This year's paper covers work completed through Linux kernel 4.13, with an emphasis on releases 4.8 to 4.13. The last report was released in August 2016 and focused on 3.19 to 4.7.

Key findings from this year's paper include:

  • Roughly 15,600 developers from more than 1,400 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since the adoption of Git made detailed tracking possible. Since the last report, over 4,300 developers from more than 500 companies have contributed to the kernel; 1,670 of these developers contributed for the first time, comprising about a third of contributors.
  • The Top 10 organizations sponsoring Linux kernel development since the last report include Intel, Red Hat, Linaro, IBM, Samsung, SUSE, Google, AMD, Renesas and Mellanox. The complete top 30 contributing organizations can be seen in the full report.
  • The rate of Linux development continues to increase, as does the number of developers and companies involved in the process. The average number of changes accepted into the kernel per hour is 8.5, a significant increase from the 7.8 changes in the last report, which translates to 204 changes every day and over 1,400 per week. The average days of development per release increased slightly to 67.66 days from 66 last year, with every release spaced either 63 or 70 days apart, providing significant predictability. The 4.9 and 4.12 development cycles featured the highest patch rates ever seen in the history of the kernel project.
  • The number of unpaid developers may be stabilizing, with these developers contributing 8.2% of contributions, a slight increase from 7.7% in last year's report. This is still significantly down from the 11.8% reported in 2014. This is likely due to kernel developers being in short supply, leading those who demonstrate the ability to submit quality patches to not have trouble finding job offers.

The report is co-authored by Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel developer and editor of, and Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux kernel maintainer and Linux Foundation fellow. This year's report also features interviews with 12 Linux kernel developers and maintainers.

"The incredible rates of contribution and participation in the Linux kernel demonstrate the continued strength and scalability of the kernel community," said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation. "This report provides important information that helps show how incredibly effective the collaborative development model can be for one of the most essential software projects in history."

To download the full report, please visit

The paper is being released today at the invitation-only Linux Kernel Summit, taking place alongside Open Source Summit Europe, hosted by The Linux Foundation. Open Source Summit is a technical conference where 2,000+ developers, operators, and community leadership professionals convene to collaborate, share information and learn about the latest in open technologies, including Linux, containers, cloud computing and more. The event combines the existing LinuxCon, ContainerCon and CloudOpen conferences with the all new Open Community Conference and Diversity Empowerment Summit. For more information and keynote session livestream, visit

Additional Resources
Video: Greg Kroah-Hartman: Linux Kernel Development -

About The Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is the organization of choice for the world's top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption. Together with the worldwide open source community, it is solving the hardest technology problems by creating the largest shared technology investment in history. Founded in 2000, The Linux Foundation today provides tools, training and events to scale any open source project, which together deliver an economic impact not achievable by any one company. More information can be found at

The Linux Foundation has registered trademarks and uses trademarks. For a list of trademarks of The Linux Foundation, please see our trademark usage page: Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.


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