Size of teams behind Linux distros
plinnell at scribus.net
Thu Apr 12 22:32:24 PDT 2012
I will respond in-line to give some rough estimates about openSUSE.
On 04/12/2012 04:25 PM, Enrico Zini wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 02:14:05PM -0500, Jason Hsu wrote:
>> I've been curious about the size of the teams behind Linux distros. I
>> met a Gentoo developer at the Minnebar conference last Saturday and
>> learned that there are about 200 people working on Gentoo and about
>> 1000 people working on Debian. I understand that the productive Linux
>> Mint team is surprisingly small, though I have no idea how small.
>> (50? 20? 10? Even fewer?)
>> How big are the teams that you're familiar with?
> It is in fact rather hard to count the size of a distro. In the case of
> Debian (I'm using Debian as an example because I know it well, but most
> of what I'm saying can be applied to others), these are the official
> statistics: https://nm.debian.org/public/stats/
We do not track in the same way, but at a guess, there are probably
500-800 people contributing in some way.
> It's 951 full developers, plus 170 debian maintainers. However, of those
> (especially of the full developers) there are an unspecified number who
> are not very active anymore and have not yet been spotted by the MIA
> team. So looking at official membership numbers you have a bias based
> on how inactive members are detected, and also a bias based on how high
> each distribution raises the bar of official membership.
> However, there are also many people who do packaging work and are not
> DDs or DMs, plus another number of people who do not do packaging
> work, are not official developers but still regularly do translation
> work. We are brainstorming how to track such non-packaging contributions
> so that we can acknowledge their contributors like we do with packagers,
> but still cannot do that properly.
We have just under 500 members who have 'membership' status. That is
they are recognized contributors who among other things have an
@opensuse.org email address.
> Still depending on where you draw the line, a distribution is also built
> by people sending patches to the BTS, or helping out staffing booths at
> events, or helping people in web forums or participating in local
> communities, or adopting it at work, or building solutions or businesses
> on it.
> And if an ecosystem is healthy, then the work done by people on
> derivatives should eventually get contributed on the main distribution.
> And each derivative has its own ecosystem which is rather hard to track.
> It even took quite some effort to start a census to track Debian
> derivatives themselves.
> The point here is that if one wants to estimate the manpower that ends
> up in a distro, it's probably more fair to look at the size of the
> ecosystem rather than the number of official developers. Although,
> indeed, that is really rather hard to estimate.
Exactly again. I think of the dozens of folks who simply reply in forums
or on IRC to support end users.
>  http://wiki.debian.org/qa.debian.org/MIATeam
>  http://mentors.debian.net/ has many examples, but it also happens in
> several teams in Debian.
>  http://wiki.debian.org/Derivatives/Census
One of the really cool things I like in openSUSE is the collaboration
model within OBS (Open Build Server). It is quite unique in that there
is a git/svn like model, where you can branch a package from the main
distribution, make your improvements. Anyone with an OBS account can do
this. No big vetting formalities, if the patch is good, 99.99% of the
time it is accepted.
openSUSE Board Member
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