Jan 10, 2020

Linux year in review: what’s changing

Linux in 2019

Linux development is evolving. According to the latest end of year report, the open source Linux project had fewer authors and fewer commits in 2019.

What’s changing: In 2019, Linux saw the fewest commits since 2013. While the Linux kernel has grown by roughly 80k commits each year over recent years, last year dropped to 75k commits.

The number of individual contributors has declined over the last few years, too. Linux had 4,402 contributors in 2017 and 4,362 in 2018, but dropped even further to 4,189 in 2019.

What’s not changing: Linux is a stalwart of the free and open source world—and a software behemoth. The Linux kernel ended 2019 with 27.8M lines of code, nearly 888K commits, more than 21K authors, and 66.5K files.

In 2019, developers added 3,386,347 lines of new code and removed 1,696,620 lines, which is on par with recent years. Red Hat and Intel—both server software juggernauts—remain as the top contributing companies.

Why you should care: Linux is everywhere, even if we can’t see it. From embedded systems to smartphones to nearly every supercomputer, the Linux kernel is core to most modern day computing—despite being released more than 28 years ago.

The cloud, too, depends heavily on Linux. Linux is the most popular server operating system in the world, even surpassing Windows on Microsoft Azure.

Still, losing 5% of contributors in two years and a noticeable slowdown in commits could be a signal that the codebase or community is maturing or consolidating. Linux will undoubtedly remain dominant, but the core community and enterprise contributors will likely play a growing role in pushing the Linux kernel forward.

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