Santiago Dueas et al, “Corporate Involvement of Libre Software”

This study parses the code of all packages included in the Debian operating system project, the largest open source software project in terms of lines of code (over 239 million at the time of writing in 2005, as it packages together the Linux kernel and packages from many other providers) searching for various copyright attributions. The purpose of the study is to determine how much code is contributed by companies (as opposed to foundations and individual volunteers) and track this trend from 1998 – 2005. The authors find that the total amount of code contributed by companies has grown substantially each year, roughly keeping pace with the total amount of code in Debian. Thus in the seven year period covered by the study, the percentage of code from companies has hovered around 6%, while the amount (in lines of code) has increased ten-fold, and the number of companies has increased from 249 to 1455. This suggests to the authors an large increase in company involvement with open source over this period of time, albeit in an environment in which the total amount of code produced in open source (specifically Linux) circles has seen drastic increases in output.

The largest contributer by far is Sun Microsystems (subsequently acquired by Oracle), followed by IBM and Red Hat Corp (which is underrepresented because a great deal of its contributed code goes toward competing distributions: Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora).


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