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Companies, Developers Contributing To The X Server

Michael Larabel

Published on 11 June 2008
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 21 Comments

Since our article yesterday entitled X Server 1.4.1 Is Released, No Joke where we shared that the X.Org server update -- a critical part of the Linux desktop -- was released albeit significantly late and the blocker bug list wasn't even cleared, it's sparked discussions on our forums and other online communities on how the X.Org release management can be improved and how new developers can become involved. One of the most common recommendations has been to get more software (distribution) vendors involved, seeing as they are the ones shipping X.Org to many of the desktop users around the world. However, as there hasn't been a list (or at least not in some time) that looks at each of the commits to the X server in regards to each of the companies and the developers involved, we've provided one in this article that covers all X Server activity going back nine years.

Checking out the code from the xorg/xserver git tree, we had looked at the git log going back to November of 1999. Since that time there have been 5,846 commits to the X server (from XFree86 to the X.Org fork). We wrote a script to analyze each of these commits in order to look at the number of contributions made by each individual and in turn made by each of the different companies.

The raw results are shared on the following pages, and the breakdown of commits had even surprised us a bit. When it comes to companies with their primary focus being hardware, there were seven companies tracked and those were ATI/AMD, HP, IBM, Intel, Nokia, NVIDIA, and Sun. Combined these seven companies had made up just over 33% of the commits to the X server since November of 1999. Of the mentioned companies, Intel was by far the biggest contributor with over 13% of the commits.

There were eight major software vendors that turned up from our analysis and that included Apple, Debian, FreeBSD/NetBSD/OpenBSD, Gentoo, Mandriva, Novell, Red Hat, and Tungsten Graphics. The biggest software company contributing to the X server has been Red Hat, with the second largest contributor being Tungsten Graphics and they had more than three times fewer commits than Red Hat. Novell / SuSE was in third. Combined, these software vendors had made up nearly 33% of the total commits over the past nine years.

Between these 15 hardware and software companies, they had made up about 66% of the total code commits since 1999. But where did the rest come from? The remaining 30~33% of the work can be attributed to independent developers and other less-noticeable companies. There were 190 developers tracked during this time and 113 of them we classified as being independent developers or not from one of the big Linux/open-source companies. Many of these code contributors were also university students. 661 of the 5,846 commits in fact were from developers with a .edu email address.

Turning from looking at companies to individuals, the single developer with the greatest number of commits is Peter Hutterer. Peter is responsible for approximately 10.8% of the commits to the X server. You may know of his work as of late being Multi-Pointer X, or MPX for short. MPX was born out of Peter's PhD project as a student at the University of South Australia in the Wearable Computer Lab. His work on X.Org had only began back in 2006.

The developer with the second greatest number of commits has been Daniel Stone. Most recently Daniel worked on the X.Org 7.3, his current employer is Nokia, and previously it was Canonical. Daniel is also a member of the Board of Directors for the X.Org Foundation and his X.Org work started in 2004.

In third place for the number of commits is Adam Jackson, an employee of Red Hat. Adam has just been committing to X.Org since 2004 but he represents over 9% of the total workload. Adam Jackson is serving as the X.Org 7.4 release manager.

The raw results are on the following pages. Please note that the computations were all calculated automatically and that there is about 1.15% of the total commits not accounted for due to developers shortening (or changing) their supplied name to git, etc. All developers should be accounted for but if there is a name that was somehow missed, we apologize.

It's also important to note that since the modularization of X.Org, the X server isn't the only key piece of the windowing system. Of critical importance to X.Org is also the input and video drivers, X libraries, utilities, and Mesa. None of the work from any of these developers should be discounted and they all play an important role. For this article though, we only analyzed the server git tree.

Stay tuned to Phoronix for more X.Org coverage, as always.

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