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It’s no secret that Red Hat is a leading contributor to the development of open source software. In fact, as noted by a couple of recent surveys, Red Hat is the leading corporate contributor to the most important open source project of all, the Linux Kernel.

Last week, the Linux Foundation published a report about Linux kernel development and we were recognized as the leading corporate contributor with over 9,000 changes contributed, or 11.2 percent of the total. And we were also recognized a few months ago by Linux Weekly News as the most active company contributor both by changesets (12 percent) and by lines changed (12.7 percent) in the development of the 2.6.23 kernel. The results for these two reports are summarized in the following table:

Top 6 Corporate Contributors
Linux Foundation Linux Weekly News
Company Name Changes % of total Company Name Changes % of total
None 11,594 13.0% Unknown 1,180 19.0%
Unknown 10,803 12.9% Red Hat 744 12.0%
Red Hat 9,351 11.2% None 559 9.0%
Novell 7,385 8.9% IBM 507 8.2%
IBM 6,952 8.3% Novell 421 6.8%
Intel 3,388 4.1% Intel 184 3.0%


The two surveys show slightly different rankings, which are a result of differences in counting methods. Nevertheless, Red Hat emerges as the top contributor in each.

The top 10 companies listed as contributors in the Linux Foundation report have made an impressive 75 percent of the improvements to the kernel. Of course, not everyone who benefits from the capabilities of the Linux kernel is a contributor, but the many corporate, government, academic and individual contributors do so because they see value in collaborating to ensure that the kernel provides the latest features combined with the highest levels of quality, security and performance.

We are also proud that many of the top kernel developers recognized in both write-ups are Red Hat employees. For example, Al Viro and David Miller, both Red Hatters, are the top two known individual contributors noted in the Linux Foundation report, with many others from Red Hat listed among the top 30. The top 10 individual contributors have contributed almost 15 percent of the changes, and the top 30 have contributed 30 percent. See the list of individual contributors in the article.

While Red Hat is the largest corporate contributor to the kernel, that’s not where the story ends. Red Hat Enterprise Linux has about 1,200 components beyond the kernel, and each will have its community of contributors, both commercial and non-commercial. Different components will be areas of strength for different contributors, such as Sun Microsystems’ leadership in the Open Office project. However, Red Hat is fortunate to have leading members in many of these communities, which provides us with a way to canvass for capabilities that will meet our partners and customers needs. Being able to supply bug fixes for a component is an important benefit of open source development, but being able to influence features and strategy are even more important, and this is an area where Red Hat is preeminent.

The Linux Foundation’s article notes that “the Linux kernel is one of the largest and most successful open source projects that has ever come about.” We’re proud to have made leading contributions to this project.


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