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Fascinating Linux Facts and Statistics You Need to Know About
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Fascinating Linux Facts and Statistics You Need to Know About

Despite its constantly growing popularity, Linux is still considered a niche operating system by most desktop users. But what if we told you that Linux is virtually unchallenged by Windows and MacOS when it comes to things like web hosting, cloud infrastructure, scientific research, IoT, and more? This may sound surprising to some but Linux also powers most of the world’s supercomputers and is the dominant operating system on mobile. Pretty impressive for an OS that’s often overlooked by most people, right? And yet, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Even though it’s been around for decades at this point, Linux continues to be enshrouded in mystery, at least as far as the common user is concerned. Well, we decided to try and change that by putting together a comprehensive list of Linux statistics and facts that everybody will find interesting. Given the huge role Linux plays in powering our tech-centric world, we think it’s worth learning about this fascinating operating system even if you don’t necessarily plan to use it yourself anytime soon.

That said, this article isn’t just for newcomers who want to find out what Linux is all about. Veteran users will also find a lot of interesting information here, some of which could be very valuable to those who want to take their knowledge of Linux to the next level. In short, there’s a little something for everybody here. But let’s start off with some of the basics before we jump into the detailed statistics and little known facts.

Quick Linux Overview for Beginners

  • The first version of Linux was launched on September 17, 1991
  • Unlike Windows and Mac, Linux is free and open-source (FOSS)
  • Linux has almost 600 distributions, around 500 of which are in active development
  • Father of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell founded the company that would decades later help bring Unix to life, and by extension, Linux as well.
  • Linux was created by a Finnish developer and the telecommunications company where Unix was created is now currently owned by Nokia, a Finnish tech giant.
  • Most operating systems used today are in some way related to Unix, with Windows being the most important exception.

What is Linux?

While it may seem pretty different compared to Windows and MacOS, Linux is essentially just another operating system. Like any other operating system, Linux acts as an interface between computer hardware and a human user. The OS also doubles as a virtual environment for other pieces of software like applications and programs.

What’s a Linux Distribution?

Linux is not a single operating system but rather an umbrella term for a wide variety of operating systems based on the Linux kernel. These operating systems are often referred to as flavors or distributions (distros). It is estimated that there are close to 600 distros to choose from at the moment, though some of them are no longer in active development.  A few examples of popular Linux distros include Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Linux Mint, CentOS, and Manjaro, among many others.

Who Created Linux?

Linux was created back in 1991 by Finnish software engineer Linus Benedict Torvalds. The goal of the project from the very beginning was to create a free and open-source operating system. That’s still mostly the case almost three decades later, though these days there are a handful of distributions that aren’t free, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux. As far as the name is concerned, Linux is just a combination of “Linus” and “Unix”.

Is Linux the Same as Unix?

Even though you might sometimes hear the words Linux and Unix used interchangeably they actually refer to two very different things. Unix is an operating system that was developed in the late 60s by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie from AT&T Bell Laboratories, an American industrial research and scientific development company that went through several name changes over the years. Interestingly enough, these days the company goes by the name Nokia Bell Labs after being acquired by the Finnish telecommunications giant in 2015.

Just in case you were wondering, AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph Company) is the successor to American Bell, a company founded by none other than Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. Though perhaps not directly, you could say that the father of the telephone created the perfect foundation for the development of the first portable operating system.

In turn, Unix went on to inspire the creation of many other operating systems, which came to be known as “Unix-like” operating systems. Aside from Windows, which was originally based on DOS, pretty much all the other operating systems used today can trace their lineage back to Unix or one of its successors. This includes BSD, MacOS X, iOS, Android, Chrome OS, and of course, Linux.

What Makes Linux Special?

There are quite a few things that allow Linux to stand out from other operating systems, especially popular ones like Windows and MacOS. But if you’re a regular user, all you really need to keep in mind is that Linux is free, constantly evolving, and fully customizable. This makes it ideal for everything from programming and scientific research to IoT projects, gaming, and so much more. Linux’s inherent flexibility makes it seem less beginner-friendly than other operating systems, however, there are quite a few distros these days that are definitely suitable to novices. Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Elementary OS are just a few noteworthy examples.

Latest Linux Statistics for 2020

  • Linux’s overall market share among home users has risen to 1.69% but that percentage is much higher in certain countries
  • The top 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world all use Linux
  • Around 96% of the top 1 million websites are believed to run on Linux-based servers
  • 70% of all known websites are powered by a Unix-based operating system
  • 94% of Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing platform runs on Linux
  • Even Microsoft is now heavily reliant on the operating system as evidenced by the fact that over 60% of cloud instance found on Azure run on Linux
  • Well over 4,000 video games now have support for Linux

As of July 2020, it is estimated that around 1.69% of all desktop home computers are using Linux. Back in July 2019, the percentage was 1.65% while the adoption rate in July 2010 was just 0.77%. While regular desktop users aren’t exactly pushing and shoving to switch to Linux, the operating system has more than doubled in popularity over the past decade. If current trends are anything to go by, we can expect that percentage to keep increasing in the years to come.

If we were to look at the usage statistics for all platforms the situation would look quite a bit different. At the moment Linux is the operating system used by only 0.81% of all devices, however, Android is the primary OS for 38.3% of them, surpassing even Windows (36.55%).

So what does Android have to do with all of this? Well, Android’s kernel is based on the Linux kernel’s long-term support (LTS) branches. The operating system has been based on a modified version of the Linux kernel since its inception and continues to be heavily dependent on Linux. But since Android uses a modified version of the kernel, Google can implement changes that fall outside the regular Linux development cycle. That’s why we already have Android 10 while the latest Linux kernel version as of this writing is only 5.7.9.

Going back to desktop usage, it’s interesting to note that some countries are much faster than others when it comes to embracing Linux. In Germany, for example, 3.26% of desktop computers are running on Linux and we’re seeing a similar situation in Finland where the adoption rate is currently at 3.19% and India at 3.11%. However, it’s interesting to note that the situation in India fluctuates frequently and you can see the percentage rise to as much as 6.28% if you go back just a few months.

Meanwhile, the situation is the US is slightly above the global average, with 1.84% of American desktop users preferring Linux over other operating systems as of July 2020. The shifts in preferences are not quite as dramatic here compared to India but the adoption rate is known to surpass 2% during certain months.

Linux and Supercomputers

Linux might not be the number one choice for most home desktop users but it is certainly the most popular operating system for supercomputers. In fact, it’s the only OS used by the powerful computation machines. As of 2017, the top 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world all run on Linux and it looks like that’s not going to change anytime soon. But, of course, that hasn’t always been the case.

The first supercomputers used to run on custom-built operating systems until a big shift towards Unix started taking place in the 90s. It didn’t take long after that for supercomputers to finally transition to Linux, though a handful of them did use other operating systems until recently. Of course, there are still non-Linux based supercomputers even today, however, none of them can currently be found in the top 500.

Linux and Servers

Similar to supercomputers, internet-based servers are also dominated by Linux, though things aren’t quite as one-sided in this case. The available information on this topic is somewhat conflicting and worth taken with a grain of salt. But according to one source, around 96% of the top 1 million websites (as ranked by Alexa) run on servers powered by Linux.

Meanwhile, a different source claims that around 70% of all known websites run on servers powered by a Unix-like operating system. Linux takes the biggest chunk of that percentage but the category also includes FreeBSD and a few other operating systems. It’s worth noting that both sources list data that is a few years old by this point.

New statistics regarding the operating systems used for servers have been few and far between in recent years. But while it’s difficult to pinpoint with 100% accuracy the percentage of servers using Linux, it’s clear that the operating system plays a very significant role in this area.

Two of the reasons we are inclined to believe that Linux adoption rate is very high compared to other operating systems is price and availability. Linux servers tend to be cheaper than their Windows counterparts, likely thanks to the freemium nature of the operating system. Equally important is the fact that many of the big web hosting providers only offer Linux-based servers, and a very significant portion of all the websites on the internet are hosted by these very companies.

As far as the public cloud market is concerned, the data is once again somewhat open to interpretation, especially given the volatile nature of the platform. However, if the statistics for Amazon’s EC2 are anything to go by, Linux along with its various distributions power around 94% of the platform as of 2020.

EC2 controls around half of the public cloud market so these stats give us a pretty good indication of what the overall situation might look like. If you’re not entirely convinced that Linux dominates this sector, consider the fact that even Microsoft uses Linux to power its cloud-based Azure service. Around 60% of all cloud instances found on Azure are currently powered by Linux, a percentage that’s expected to grow even more in the years to come.

Linux and Gaming

Gaming on Linux has traditionally been considered a very niche thing but things are slowly but surely starting to change. While Windows continues to be the operating system of choice for most gamers, Valve’s Linux-powered Steam OS and other gaming-friendly distributions have made Linux a very viable alternative. According to a recent survey, less than 1% of Steam users are playing on Linux but Steam isn’t the only game in town.

Thanks to applications like Play on Linux and Wine, it’s possible to play a lot of games on Linux that don’t have official support for the platform. The number of Linux gamers who are using these applications is nearly impossible to track but the percentage is believed to be quite high since both apps are free. As far as the games that do have official support are concerned, we know the number surpassed 4,000 back in 2018 and has continued to grow ever since.

Traditionally speaking, the performance of games on Linux hasn’t been as good as those found on Windows but that’s slowly starting to change as well. In fact, a report from earlier this year showed Red Dead Redemption 2 running faster on Linux than Windows 10. That’s an exception rather than the rule at this point but who knows what the future will bring for gaming on Linux.

Linux Usage Statistics by Field

  • Linux is the favorite operating system of 83.1% of developers according to one study
  • 3% of developers use Linux as their primary operating system for work-related purposes
  • Over 15,000 developers have contributed to the improvement of the Linux kernel since 2005
  • NASA, SpaceX, and the ESA (European Space Agency) all use Linux for their various space programs
  • Since 2013 the International Space Station also runs exclusively on Linux
  • 80% to 90% of all special effects seen in Hollywood movies post 2002 have been created with the help of Linux. Linux was used for Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and many other big franchises
  • 23 out of the most popular 25 websites in 2020 are powered by Linux

Unsurprisingly, developers and programmers absolutely love Linux. Pretty much everybody knows this but do you know just how much developers love Linux? According to a very comprehensive survey that came out earlier this year, 54.1% of professional developers used Linux for work at one point or another throughout 2019. But only 25.3% of them used Linux as their primary OS.

Interestingly enough, though, Linux was the most beloved development platform for a whopping 83.1% of responders. Only 64.2% of all respondents said they also loved developing on Windows. Meanwhile, WordPress, of all things, took the number one spot for the most dreaded development platform with 59.5% of the total votes.

It’s important to note that although this was just one survey, more than 80K people participated in it and around 84% of them claimed to be professional developers. The survey enforces the popular belief that more and more developers prefer Linux these days. However, it also seems to indicate that a lot of developers are not in a position where they can actually use the operating system for work, or at least not exclusively.

Developer Community

Linux may have started as a one-man project but these days there are thousands of people working on the kernel alone. According to a report from 2017, over 15,000 developers have contributed in one way or another to the Linux kernel since 2005. At the moment, it is estimated that the core developer community consists of anywhere between 5,000 to 6,000 contributors. Linux is an open-source project so, in theory, anybody can participate but, as you can probably imagine, there’s a very rigorous system in place for submitting code and making changes to the kernel.

While a certain portion of the developer community is comprised of independent contributors, quite a few companies have also pitched in to help improve the kernel. Among the biggest contributors, you can find tech giants like Intel, Red Hat, Linaro, and IBM. Other big companies that have either helped with the development process or have donated significant sums of money towards The Linux Foundation include the likes of AT&T, Google, Microsoft, Fujitsu, Huawei, Oracle, Samsung, and more.

Linux in Space

Everybody knows that Linux is very important for developers but who else uses the operating system? As it turns out, Linux plays a crucial role in a wide variety of fields. For instance, Linux is the most popular operating system for computers found aboard spacecrafts. Both NASA and the ESA (European Space Agency) are known to use Linux for their space programs. NASA doesn’t seem to have a favorite distro but the ESA seems to be a big fan of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

SpaceX is also heavily reliant on Linux, having used the operating system for dozens of missions involving Falcon 9 rockets. Earlier this year, the company also launched numerous satellites carrying Linux-powered computers in order to expand the Starlink internet network. If everything goes well, the first public beta testing phase for the new internet service will take place later this year.

But perhaps even more important is the fact that even the International Space Station runs on Linux. The computers aboard the ISS used to run on Windows XP until 2013 when they were switched to Debian 6. According to the United Space Alliance, the organization that manages the computers aboard the ISS, the change was made because they “needed an operating system that was stable and reliable.”

Hollywood Loves Linux

As I’m sure you’ve already noticed by now, movies are becoming more and more driven by flashy visual effects and CGI. While there are plenty of people who don’t necessarily like this shift, at least we can all appreciate the hard work that goes into creating a lifelike character like Thanos. There’s often a veritable arsenal of powerful software needed to bring those types of characters to life in a realistic way, but none of it would be of much use without a reliable operating system.

The operating system most often used by Hollywood is, you’ve guessed it, Linux. We’ve known as early as 2002 that 80-90% of high-end visual effects for movies are created using Linux. That’s likely close to 100% these days. But while Linux has proved to be invaluable to Hollywood, the movie industry has played an equally important role in popularizing the operating system.

Linux and the Internet

One could make the argument that the internet we all know and love wouldn’t exist without Linux. And, for the most part, they would be right. 23 out of the 25 most popular websites in the world right now are running on servers powered by Linux. The other two (Live.com and Bing.com) and both owned by Microsoft and run on Windows. But as mentioned earlier, even Microsoft has incorporated Linux into many of its services so it seems like just a matter of time until the open-source OS dominates everything.

Google and YouTube are also powered by Linux along with pretty much every social media platform you can think of. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, LinkedIn, and more. Streaming platforms like Netflix and Twitch? Linux. Marketplaces like Amazon? Linux again. Wikipedia? You guessed it, Linux. It’s hard to imagine how the internet would look like without all these websites but luckily we don’t have to thanks to Linux.

Linux Demographics

  • 59% of Ubuntu users prefer their operating system to be in English
  • 70% of Ubuntu users are under the age of 35
  • At first glance, only 4-5% of Ubuntu users are female but Canonical believes that percentage to be higher in reality
  • 51% of The Linux Foundation’s workforce is comprised of women
  • Greece has the highest adoption rate at the moment, with around 7.04% of users preferring Linux over other operating systems.
  • Uruguay, the Czech Republic, Cuba, and India are very big fans of Linux as well
  • Americans are the most prolific when it comes to creating commercial Linux distributions, with at least 63 distros originating from the US.

You don’t need to register anywhere or disclose personal data in order to use Linux, which is great for a wide variety of reasons. However, this also makes it very hard to figure out what categories of users like the operating system the most. Ubuntu is one of the few distros that tries to provide some insight into the matter, however, the data generally revolves around hardware.

But, among other things, the latest statistics do reveal that English is by far the preferred language of Ubuntu users. 59% of the users who took part in the survey opted for English, with languages like Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and German each accounting for 4% to 7% of the remaining votes.

Back in 2012 Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu conducted a more in-depth user survey some other interesting bits of information. For example, the vast majority of users fall in the 25-35 age group, with only a little over 30% of all users being over 35. Unfortunately, Canonical didn’t provide a more detailed breakdown of the age-related data, but they did have some interesting things to say about the gender ratio.

Unsurprisingly to most, the vast majority of Ubuntu users turned out to be male but the actual percentage is certainly unexpected. According to the survey, females account for under 4% of Ubuntu’s user base. The survey admits that the sampling methodology wasn’t exactly perfect and that the real number of female users is probably somewhat higher.

That does seem to be the case as back in 2010 a group known as Ubuntu Women conducted a study revealing that at least 5% of users are female. Needless to say, this data is pretty old at this point and might not accurately reflect the current situation for either Ubuntu or Linux as a whole.

If the figures provided by The Linux Foundation are anything to go by, the real number of women involved in creating open-source software is quite a bit higher. The company says that 51% of its workforce is comprised by women and 50% of its executive team. Meanwhile, 27% of its board members are also women. However, The Linux Foundation only has around 150 employees so this is a very small sample size that may or may not reflect the real gender ratio of Linux users or developers.

Usage by Country

We already talked a bit about Linux usage by country earlier in the article but we wanted to take a closer look at the stats in this section because some of them are quite interesting. For instance, it may come as a surprise to some to learn that Greece currently has the largest Linux market share, with the operating system being enjoyed by 7.04% of the country’s users. Quite a significant number that likely comes as a result of OS X’s very poor adoption rate (5.04%) among Greek users.

Uruguay also has a very impressive adoption rate of 6.92%, however, to the detriment of Windows (76.37%) rather than OS X (13.61%) in this case. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic and Cuba are two other countries where Linux is doing pretty well, the OS managing to attract 4.16% and 3.76% of users, respectively.

Since we’re talking about the countries that like to use Linux, it’s also worth touching upon countries that have been the most involved in creating distributions. According to the most recent stats, the US is by far the largest contributor, with no less than 63 distros originating from the country. Coming in at number two is Germany with 25 distributions while France and Spain each have 22 distros under their belts so far. Other major contributors include Canada, Brazil, Italy, Japan, and the UK.

Even though Chinese users haven’t really embraced Linux so far (the market shared is less than 1% in the country), China has provided a total of 9 distributions so far. Interestingly enough, Debian along with a handful of other distros like CentOS and Openwall Linux cannot be claimed by any country as they were created by an international team of developers.

Who Else Uses Linux?

  • 13% of all mobile phones are running on Android, an OS based on a modified version of the Linux kernel
  • The PS3 shipped with support for Linux; with some tweaks, the OS can also work on the PS4
  • The White House has been using Linux since 2001
  • The Chinese government uses a Linux distro called Ubuntu Kylin
  • Red Star OS is the national Linux distro used by North Korea
  • India’s national distro is called BOSS (Bharat Operating System Solutions)
  • In 2007 the US Army was the single largest install base for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
  • The Dutch police’s Internet Research and Investigation Network has been using Linux since as early as 2003
  • The Bank of Brazil has been using Linux since 2002, making it one of the first national banks to adopt the operating system
  • The Bank of America and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China also started using Linux in the early 2000s

It’s easy to think that only developers and a small portion of home users are interested in Linux, however, the operating system’s popularity goes well beyond that. Huge corporations are also big fans of Linux, including Amazon Web Service, the world’s most popular cloud platform.

As already discussed previously, Android is based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and we all know the importance of Android when it comes to mobile technology. As of December 2019, 74.13% of all mobile phones were running on Android. Because of that, you could say that most of us are heavily reliant on Linux for mobile communication, whether we know it or not.

While PC gamers are just now warming up to the idea of using Linux, console gamers have already been doing it for many years. The PS3 came with a special feature that allowed users to install Linux on their console and many of them made good use of it. Meanwhile, the PS4 runs on Orbis OS, a FreeBSD-based operating system that’s quite similar to Linux. While there is no official support for Linux on the PS4, some users have figured out how to install the OS nevertheless, though doing so is not without risks.

Governments Using Linux

A lot of governments around the world have adopted Linux over the years, relying on the fact that it provides better security and anonymity when compared to its competitors. The White House might be one of the best examples given that its main website has been running on Linux for close to two decades at this point. The site used to run on Solaris, a Unix-based OS, but eventually switched to a Linux platform back in 2001.

Meanwhile, the governments of other countries have taken things a step further by creating their own customized distributions. China is known for putting its own spin on pretty much so it should come as no surprise that the Chinese government also has a special version of Ubuntu. The distro is known as Ubuntu Kylin and has been used by the government since 2013.

Cuba has its own national Ubuntu-based distro called Nova OS, which even has a lightweight version that was designed to replace Windows XP. North Korea has its own custom-build nation OS based on Linux but, unsurprisingly, no one knows too much about it. We do know that the distro goes by the name Red Star OS, uses the KDE 3 desktop environment, and that it might be based on Fedora, but most other details are being kept under wraps for now.

India’s government is known to work with the appropriately named BOSS (Bharat Operating System Solutions), a Debian-based distribution. A few other countries that have their own national Linux distros include Turkey (Pardus Linux), Russia (Astra Linux), Venezuela (Canaima Linux), and possibly Iran (Zamin OS).

Linux and the Military

The militaries of various nations have always been interested in adopting new technologies, particularly when these technologies have been designed with security in mind. Linux fits that criteria perfectly, hence why the US Department of Defense has been using the operating system since as early as 2007. At the time, the US Army was actually the single largest install base for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The US Navy also adopted Linux a few years later in 2013 to be used on its warships.

Of course, the US isn’t the only country that uses Linux for national security purposes. Another example is the French national police force, which began migrating its PCs to Linux back in 2013. Meanwhile, the Dutch police’s Internet Research and Investigation Network (iRN) began switching to open-source software in 2003. These days the agency is working primarily with Ubuntu.

Linux and Banking

Banks have a rather long history of incorporating Linux into their systems, being some of the first institutions to start adopting the operating system on a large scale in the early 2000s. The Bank of Brazil is credited with being one of the first to adopt Linux, a process that occurred gradually between 2002 and 2005. Around the same time, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China started switching from Windows to Linux in an attempt to combat piracy. The move turned out to be a huge success.

US banks were also pretty quick to adopt Linux, with the Bank of America being one of the first to start the transition back in 2003. A few years later in 2007 the Union Bank of California went all out and switched its entire infrastructure to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Of course, these days you’ll find that pretty much all American banks are using Linux to some extent.

Top Linux Distributions

The most popular Linux distros tend to change quite often. Depending on when you look at it, the list might be a bit different but in terms of sheer interest, as of July 2020, the list is comprised of MX Linux, Manjaro, Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Debian, Elementary OS, Solus, Fedora, Zorin, and Deepin. This list is according to the stats gathered by DistroWatch and shows the distributions with the most page hits on the site over the past 12 months.

MX Linux

MX Linux is one of the fastest-growing distros at the moment. The distribution is quite young compared to most of its siblings, having launched in March of 2014. MX Linux is surprisingly user-friendly and a particularly good pick for old laptops thanks to its modest system requirements. The evolution of MX Linux has been very interesting so far and we’re excited to see what the future brings for the distro.

Manjaro

Manjaro is another distro that became surprisingly popular in recent years and it’s not hard to see why. This is one of only a handful of Arch Linux based distributions that can be considered user-friendly and is the most versatile of the bunch. You can use Manjaro for development, gaming, casual internet browsing, and anything else you can think of.

Linux Mint

A veteran distribution, Linux Mint has been around for about 14 years at this point and is often seen as the best distro for beginners, particularly those who are switching from Windows or macOS. Thanks to its similarities to the two operating systems, Mint is always a top pick for home desktop users. The first version of Linux Mint was based on Kubuntu but these days the distro is based on Ubuntu stable.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a distribution that needs very little introduction at this point. The distro is responsible for bringing Linux to the masses and has inspired countless other distributions over the years. Despite losing some of its popularity in recent times, Ubuntu is arguably the most well-known distro even today and continues to be extremely important for the Linux community as a whole.

Debian

Debian has been around since the early 90s and can rightly be considered one of the granddaddies of the Linux family. Debian serves as a framework for over 100 other distributions, including Linux Mint and Ubuntu. While its successors may be a bit more popular these days, Debian is certainly still going strong and will probably be around for many more decades to come.

Who Develops and Manages the Linux Kernel?

  • 4,189 developers have contributed to the latest Linux kernel
  • Linus Torvalds himself contributed 3.5% of the code found in the current version
  • Intel and Red Hat have been the biggest contributors of the Linux project for many years now
  • AMD, SUSE, Linaro, and Texas Instruments have all contributed significantly towards the latest kernel
  • The first version of Linux created in 1991 only featured around 10K lines of code
  • As of early 2020, the Linux kernel is comprised of over 28 million lines of code

According to the full report for 2019, 4,189 different authors contributed to the Linux kernel throughout the year, a slight decrease compared to previous years. It is estimated that these days more than three-quarters of contributors are programmers working for corporations, with independent contributors becoming increasingly rare. Since Linux developers are always in high demand, a lot of companies are more than happy to hire them, hence why you don’t see that many freelancers anymore.

You might be surprised to learn that Linus Torvalds is still heavily involved in the Linux project even now, almost three decades since its initial release. Naturally, he no longer writes all the code by himself but he still contributes a good chunk of it. Torvalds contributed around 3.25% of the code for the latest version of the kernel, a lot more than any other developer. Rounding up the rest of the top 5 for the year are David S. Miller (1.38%), Mark Brown (0.83%), Takashi Iwai (0.80%), and Arnd Bergmann (0.79%).

As far as companies are concerned, the biggest contributions were made by Red Hat and Intel, with The Linux Foundation, SUSE, Linaro, and AMD also making the top 10. This is very much line with the previous year’s report where the same companies dominated the top 10, though there were some slight changes when it comes to their position on the list. It’s also interesting to note that companies like Samsung and IBM haven’t made the top 10 in a couple of years. Google also seems suspiciously absent, however, it’s worth noting that the company is involved more in the management and reviewing process rather than the code editing.

The first version of the Linux kernel was comprised of only around 10K lines of code, an incredibly small amount compared to recent versions. However, the project grew rapidly and by 1994 the kernel already had more than 176K lines of code. Skip forward a couple of decades and you’ll find that by 2018 Linux consisted of well over 20 million lines of code. As per the latest stats, that figure jumped to almost 28 million by the start of 2020.

Even More Interesting Linux Statistics and Facts

Before we wrap things up let’s do a final round of interesting Linux facts that you may not know about, this time in rapid succession.

  • The most frequently used Linux applications are Rsync, Dropbox, Google Drive, Aria2, Thunderbird, and GnuCash.
  • Linux has been ported to more platforms than any other operating system.
  • Linus Torvalds originally wanted to name the operating system FreaX, which is a combination of free, freak, and X (as a reference to Unix).
  • Torvalds was offered a position at Apple by Steve Jobs himself in 2000 but he rejected the offer.
  • The official mascot of Linux was created in 1996 by Larry Ewing. The Linux penguin goes by the name of “Tux”, short for tuxedo.
  • The first commercial Linux distribution was called Yggdrasil. The distro was launched in late 1992 and only lasted until 1995 when it was discontinued.
  • The famous Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator, runs on Linux.
  • Linux Torvalds’ love for scuba diving led him to create an open-source platform designed to help divers in a wide variety of ways.
  • Microsoft tried to stop the spread of Linux for many years before finally admitting defeat and joining The Linux Foundation in 2016.
  • Early Linux kernel development was done on a system powered by Minix, another Unix-based operating system.
  • Linux 1.0 launched in 1994, three years after Linus started creating the operating system’s first building blocks.
  • There’s an asteroid floating through space officially called Asteroid 9793 Torvalds.
  • Over 95% of modern Linux is written in C.

Final Thoughts

Linux is an extremely fascinating operating system that has a long history with plenty of ups and downs. The OS started from humble beginnings in the early 90s as a one-man project and morphed over the years into an absolute powerhouse that runs everything from banks and mobile phones to trains and spaceships.

A lot of people think that Linux will become the go-to operating system for everybody in the not-too-distant future and we happen to agree. If you want to check out Linux for yourself you’re in luck because we have a lot of other useful articles on the topic that will help you get started on the right foot, so don’t hesitate to give them a read.

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