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Torvalds on kernel developers

In a recent video Torvalds talks about the change that has happened in recruiting new developers to the kernel community. The bar has risen “because we are so good”; it is harder to get involved while the software is already relatively polished. However, new talent is still coming in. Torvalds:

I actually do statistics on what kind of people send me patches. And there is a long tail. […] Over a year I get patches from 1000 people. And you can tell that a bunch of 20 people do most of the fundamental stuff.

So there is, in Linus’ perception, a core and a long tail. The long tail gives him reassurance that new developers are to be found and that the community has not become to exclusive or too unfriendly. This tallies well with the “flagpole effect” described by Aaltonen & Jokinen here. It seems that a similar “flagpole + longtail” characterises other F/OSS communities, too, as described in the report on our study on the sociology of four OSS communities.

Torvalds also pours oil on the waves of the GPLv3 discussion.

“It is certainly interesting since the GPLv2 has been a defacto standard in the open source free software group for 16 years — or something like that. It’s a long time and in that sense it is a watershed event. At the same time, if you look at the number of licenses that people have been using over the years, it is just another licence. It is not that big a deal. It depends on how you look at it.”

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