Yes, you did read that right. The same company that compared Linux, an open-source OS kernel, to a kind of cancer can be found at spot number 17 on the Linux Foundation's annual list of contributors. This translates to an estimate of one percent of all changes to the most recent version of the kernel, Linux 2.6.36 which was released at the end of 2010, and is the first time Microsoft's name has been featured on the list.
This news has come as a shock to many Linux fans around the world, but using Linux makes good sense. After all, Linux is a faster OS that is virtually glitch free, so it’s about time for Microsoft to bite that bullet, don’t you think? Linux is also the one OS that is constantly being upgraded and bettered thanks to thousands of developers who work to make this OS the best in the business.
Thousands of Developers, Thousands of Changes
The Linux OS is made possible thanks to roughly 8,000 developers all over the world, working for a total of about 800 different companies, all contributing to the changes made to the kernel since 2005. There are some big names at the top ten, and this elite group of ten companies is responsible for close to sixty percent of contributions. Some big names in the top ten: Google, Broadcom, Red Hat, Samsung, Oracle, and Texas Instruments.
Every two to three months, new releases including the changes made by contributors are released. The changes number between 8,000 and 12,000 each release, and represent those changes made by a little over a thousand developers from 200 corporations. Despite the myth it is a “hobbyist” platform, over 75 percent of the most recent changes were made by paid developers.
What Did Microsoft Contribute?
The one percent Microsoft contributed to the recent release represents about 688 changes to the kernel. The majority of these changes pertained to drivers needed for Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology. Part of Windows Server, Hyper-V can run Linux as a guest OS. One of the study's co-authors thinks their involvement in the process came about as Linux 3.0 was released, and over time, they will contribute less and less. Eventually, their need to contribute to version 3.0 will cease.
It is said that Microsoft is smart to contribute changes, as Linux powers just about anything you can imagine: TVs, desktop computers, websites, smartphones, and even financial transactions. Because so many devices rely on Linux as an OS, Microsoft knows it has to adapt quickly.
About The Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is non-profit and takes charge of maintaining the constant development of the ever-changing open-source Linux kernel. Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle, Novell, Intel, and other notable companies fund the Foundation, which is understandable as their products rely on Linux in a variety of products and services. The report was written by LWN.net editor Jon Corbet, Linux Foundation fellow Greg Kroah-Hartman, and the Linux Foundation's Vice President of Marketing and Developer Services Amanda McPherson.