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The People Behind Mesa 3D

Michael Larabel

Published on 15 June 2008
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 4 Comments

Following our article looking at the state of X.Org (along with announcing the release of X Server 1.4.1), we proceeded to share the contributors behind the X Server -- both the individual developers and companies involved with fostering the growth of this important free software package since 1999. What we hadn't looked at in that analysis was the people and companies behind the work on Mesa 3D, or the OpenGL component used by X. In this article, however, we have these statistics to share.

Long before Tungsten Graphics ever came about, Mesa 3D was conceived back in 1993 by Brian Paul. However, the commit history in their revision control system (now using git) only goes back to 1998, so our analysis was limited to the past ten years. Since 1998 there have been over 15,560 commits (combined between the Mesa, DRI, and DRM components), which is almost three times as many commits as the X Server. For reference, there are about 1.2 million lines of code for Mesa (including all of the DRI drivers and other components) and over 800 thousand lines of code for Mesa/DRM. To analyze all of these commits, we had used the same scripts used in the earlier analysis. In this commit analysis we had looked at the master branches for Mesa/Mesa and Mesa/DRM at FreeDesktop.org, with the latter being home to the Direct Rendering Manager.

In this analysis we had looked at the history for 15 companies (7 hardware and 8 software vendors) and with Mesa contributions there were also 15 monitored (6 hardware and 9 software vendors). The hardware companies included ATI/AMD, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Motorola, and Sun. On the software side were DirectFB, FreeBSD, Mandriva, Novell, OpenCompositing.org, Red Hat, Tungsten Graphics, VA Linux, and XFree86.

Of the hardware companies involved with the X Server, Intel's developers had the largest number of commits. With Mesa 3D work, Intel remains the hardware leader with 7.2% of the total commits. In second with half as many commits is Ian Romanick with IBM. In third place is ATI/AMD with just over one percent of the total work. As NVIDIA doesn't support any open-source 3D driver, their contributions were at zero percent.

The software company with the greatest number of commits to Mesa is Tungsten Graphics. This should be to no surprise considering the project's founder had co-founded Tungsten Graphics and TG continues to be involved with Mesa along with being a liaison to the OpenGL ARB (Architectural Review Board). Of course, some of the other open-source graphics innovations conceived by Tungsten Graphics include the TTM Memory Manager and Gallium3D.

Trailing behind Tungsten Graphics is Red Hat with six developers at hand. Red Hat developers are responsible for almost eight percent of the commits made to Mesa and DRM. Canonical (Ubuntu) has made no direct contributions to Mesa 3D.

Being responsible for over 33% of the commits, Brian Paul is the largest contributor to Mesa 3D. However, this shouldn't be of to no surprise seeing as he founded the project and continues to be involved with its development.

With over five times less commits than Brian, the second largest committer to Mesa is David Airlie. David Airlie is responsible for nearly 6% of the commits since 1998. David Airlie mostly works on the (ATI/AMD) Radeon 3D support and his most recent employer is Red Hat.

In a close third with 5.8% of the commits is Keith Whitwell with Tungsten Graphics. In fourth and fifth are Intel's Eric Anholt and IBM's Ian Romanick, respectively.

Making up 21.5% of the Mesa 3D commits (compared to 30~33% with the X Server) are independent developers and developers from smaller/untracked companies. A total of 124 independent developers have contributed to Mesa 3D in the past ten years.

The raw results that were automatically generated can be viewed on the following pages.

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