Red Hat tops list of corporate Linux code contributors
September 18, 2008 —
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When it comes to donating code to Linux, Red Hat is the company that contributes the most, according to Greg Kroah-Hartman, maintainer of the USB and other subsystems in the Linux kernel.
Speaking at the Linux Plumbers Conference, he gave a keynote address that examined the contributions of those who've made Linux what it is today. All of these lists tracked contributions as patches, not initial donations to Linux.
The overall largest contributions to Linux code come from individuals who have no apparent affiliation with any company, as Kroah-Hartman surmised by looking at their e-mail addresses. Red Hat came in second overall, with 11,846 patches.
By comparison, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, is the 79th most active contributor, with 100 patches. Kroah-Hartman said that such behavior on the part of Canonical will be detrimental to the company and the Ubuntu distribution over time.
“Then there are the distros that base themselves off of other distros, like Ubuntu and [Lance Davis'] CentOS. These distros have yet another layer between them and the original developers. Patches rarely, if ever, flow backwards into an upstream distro, and the developers are very unlikely to push their changes into the upstream packages as they don't feel the need or don't realize the issues involved as they rely on the upstream distro so tightly,” said Kroah-Hartman.
The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is another point where many large companies contribute to Linux. Software development tools company CodeSourcery leads the list of corporate contributors to the GCC.
CodeSourcery sells numerous derivatives of GCC, including G++, a bundled Eclipse and GCC suite for Linux and Windows. Red Hat, IBM, Novell, Google, Intel and AMD rounded out the GCC corporate contributors top ten list, in that order.
Elsewhere in Linux, Kroah-Hartman's calculations showed that IBM was the second-most prolific company in its contributions to Linux, with Novell, Intel, Oracle, the Linux Foundation and SGI rounding out the top ten list. The rest of the list was filled with individual contributors.