Amid the big cash and fierce corporate jockeying around Linux, it’s the developers who truly give the operating system its vitality.
The Linux community works, it turns out, because the Linux community isn’t too concerned about work, per se. As much as Linux has come to dominate many areas of corporate computing – from HPC to mobile to cloud – the engineers who write the Linux kernel tend to focus on the code itself, rather than their corporate interests therein.
Such is one prominent conclusion that emerges from Dawn Foster’s doctoral work, examining collaboration on the Linux kernel. Foster, a former community lead at Intel and Puppet Labs, notes, “Many people consider themselves a Linux kernel developer first, an employee second.”
With all the “foundation washing” corporations have inflicted upon various open source projects, hoping to hide corporate prerogatives behind a mask of supposed community, Linux has managed to keep itself pure. The question is how.
Follow the Money
After all, if any open source project should lend itself to corporate greed, it’s Linux. Back in 2008, the Linux ecosystem was estimated to top $25 billion in value. Nearly 10 years later, that number must be multiples bigger, with much of our current cloud, mobile, and big data infrastructure dependent on Linux. Even within a single company like Oracle, Linux delivers billions of dollars in value.
Small wonder, then, that there’s such a landgrab to influence the direction of Linux through code.