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Linux coders do it for money

No such thing as a free (software) launch

Around 75 per cent of Linux developers raked in cash from their code crunching in the past year.

It's a figure that in many ways comes as little surprise, given that Linux usage has become so widespread across industries, government and the public sector in recent years.

Linux kernel contributor Jonathan Corbet told an audience at the Linux.conf.au 2010 conference in Wellington, New Zealand, earlier this week that code monkeys had a very busy 2009, working on projects for distributions such as Red Hat, Ubuntu, Debian and co.

The end result was something of a boon for Linux developers.

"75 per cent of the code comes from people paid to do it," said Corbet, according to APCmag.com.

He pointed out that between 24 December 2008 and 10 January 2010, developers wrote 2.8 million lines of code, with 55,000 tweaks being contributed to the Linux kernel.

According to Corbet's figures, 18 per cent of Linux kernel contributions came via a community effort not derived from a corporate source. A further seven per cent of code donations were unclassified, and the remaining 75 per cent came from people working on behalf of companies to develop code.

Red Hat, which had an extremely busy 2009, came out on top with 12 per cent of contributions. Intel coughed up eight per cent of code, IBM and Novell offered six per cent each, and Oracle trailed with three per cent.

The likes of Google and Apple were notably absent from Corbet's list as, while both companies use Linux-based systems to build their tech, neither have a tendency to contribute code back to the kernel.

"Hardware support is nearly universal - we support more hardware than just about any other system Graphics by the end of this year is really not going to be a big problem," he added.

The next version (2.6.33) of the Linux kernel is expected to be pumped out in early March. ®

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