GNOME Census

11:15 am General

(Reposted from Neary Consulting)

Today at GUADEC I presented the results (Slides are now on slideshare) of the GNOME Census, a project we have been working on for a while. For as long as I have been involved in GNOME, press, analysts, potential partners and advisory board members have been asking us: How big is GNOME? How many paid developers are there? Who writes all this software, and why?

By looking at the modules in the GNOME 2.30 release, made last March, we aim to answer many of those questions, and give deeper insight into the motivations of participants in the project.

The GNOME heartbeat - pre-release peaks and GUADEC boosts

Here are our key findings:

  • GNOME has a rhythm – there is a measurable increase in activity before release time, and after the annual GNOME conference GUADEC
  • While over 70% of GNOME developers identify themselves as volunteers, over 70% of the commits to the GNOME releases are made by paid contributors70% of GNOME participants are volunteers
  • Red Hat are the biggest contributor to the GNOME project and its core dependencies. Red Hat employees have made almost 17% of all commits we measured, and 11 of the top 20 GNOME committers of all time are current or past Red Hat employees. Novell and Collabora are also on the podium.
  • A number of top company contributors are consultancy/services companies specialising in the GNOME platform – Collabora, CodeThink, Openismus, Lanedo and Fluendo are in the top 20 companies. As many of these companies grew initially through work on Maemo, this is a sign of the success of Nokia’s strategy around the GNOME stack.

Company Commits Percentage
Volunteer 101823 23.45
Unknown 73558 16.94
Red Hat 70790 16.30
Novell 45349 10.44
Collabora 21684 4.99
Intel 11160 2.57
Fluendo 10218 2.35
Lanedo 10090 2.32
Independent 8922 2.05
Sun 8862 2.04
Nokia 6183 1.42
Openismus 5303 1.22
Codethink 5276 1.21
Eazel 4734 1.09
Litl 4620 1.06
Canonical 4487 1.03
Movial 2988 0.69
Mandriva 2504 0.58
The Family International 2130 0.49
Entropy Wave 2056 0.47
(Academia) 1894 0.44
Mozilla Corporation 1040 0.24

One of the interesting things that we have done for the census is to look at who is maintaining modules by looking at commits over the past two years, and use this data to identify areas of the platform which see lots of collaboration, areas where the maintenance burden is left to volunteers, and areas where individual companies assume most of the maintenance burden.

There are a number of modules in the platform which see a considerable amount of co-opetition, including Evolution, Evolution Data Server, DBus and GStreamer. Most modules in the platform, however, are either maintained to a large extent by volunteer developers, or see the vast majority of their contributions from one company.

I see this information being useful for companies interested in using the GNOME platform for their products, companies seeking custom application development, potential large-scale customers of desktop Linux or customers buying high-level support who want to know who employs more module maintainers or committers to the project.

GNOME platform maintenance map
The GNOME maintenance map, with modules coloured according to the company maintaining them

Update: Two significant omissions in the maintenance map were pointed out to me. After correctly associating a number of commiters to a company, Lanedo is responsible for 16.5% of the commits in GTK+ over the past two years, and volunteers are also responsible for at least 17%. Red Hat are still the largest contributor, with 32% of all commits to the module. libsoup is maintained by Dan Winship, who left Novell to join Red Hat in 2007, where he developed and maintains the module.

Update 2: As I announced in this post, the report is now available as a free download via neary-consulting.com licensed as Creative Commons by-sa 3.0

71 Responses

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  2. Hub Says:

    Where can we download the slides ? (*hint* slideshare requires you to login to do so)

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  21. idol lips Says:

    what is this report for exactly