Friday, 04 December 2020 08:41

Pandemic did not get in the way of Linux reaching a million commits

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Pandemic did not get in the way of Linux reaching a million commits Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

The 5.8 release of the Linux kernel, which was released during the pandemic, was its biggest ever, with 1991 individuals contributing – an odd coincidence, given that 1991 was the year when the kernel was first released.

The year also saw the one millionth commit, a contribution from Intel's Ricardo Neri-Calderón, which was part of the 5.9 maintenance release, the Linux Foundation, the organisation that co-ordinates the kernel project and numerous other free and open source software projects, said in its annual report.

The report claimed that despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the culture in the Linux kernel community remained vibrant and engaged.

When iTWire interviewed Linux creator Linus Torvalds in October, he said his work patterns had not been affected in anyway by the pandemic.

"I have worked from home for two decades by now, and all the real work gets done over email. So none of that really changed," he said.

"There were some changes to things _around_ work, since I generally travel for conferences or for other meetings a couple of times a year. Those have obviously gone away. I did do one virtual Q&A (aka 'fireside chat') conference event, but honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the format – all the stress about public speaking, and without any of the actual human contact or the break from my normal work patterns.

"And obviously it's resulted in other changes and stress (two of my three kids were in some of the most affected parts of the US in the spring: New York and New Orleans), and my youngest is at college which isn't optimal these days."

The initial 5.1.-rc1 release was already as big as the 5.8 release, with more than 1700 contributors so far, the report said.

The LF said its Linux kernel history report was the first to use the code archaeology tool cregit from the CHAOSS project. It had found that many remnants of the original kernel releases were still present in the codebase and about 50% of the kernel code was contributed in the last six years.

The report also pointed out that the project had earned a gold CII best practices badge which is awarded for best security practices.

LF executive director Jim Zemlin said in a foreword to the report: "It was uplifting to see LF members join the fight against COVID-19.

"Our members worldwide contributed technical resources for scientific researchers, offered assistance to struggling families and individuals, contributed to national and international efforts, and some even came together to create open source projects under LF Public Health to help countries deal with the pandemic."

He added: "While we continue to battle challenges in the US, we also reaffirm that the LF is part of a global community. Our members had to navigate a year of changes in international trade policies and learned open source thrives despite politics.

"From around the world, our member communities engage in open collaboration because it is open, neutral, and transparent. Those participants clearly desire to continue collaborating
with their global peers on challenges large and small."

The full report can be downloaded here.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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