The Linux community of Developers
The Linux kernel with 6 million lines of code and well over 1000 active contributors is one of the largest free software projects in existence.
Since its humble beginning in 1991, this kernel has evolved into a mixed-breed operating system which runs on pocket-sized digital music players, desktop PCs, the largest supercomputers in existence, and other systems in between.
With the growth of Linux has come an increase in the number of developers wishing to participate in its development. Hardware vendors want to ensure that Linux supports their products well, making those products attractive to Linux users.
Distributors and other software vendors who base their products on Linux have a clear interest in the capabilities, performance, and reliability of the Linux kernel. One of the most compelling features of Linux is that it is accessible to developers and anybody with the requisite skills can improve Linux and influence the evolution of the operating system.
The kernel is even more open than most other free software projects. A typical three-month kernel development cycle can involve over 1000 developers working for more than 100 different companies.
Working with the kernel development community is not especially hard and many potential contributors have experienced difficulties when attempting to work on the kernel.
The kernel community has evolved its own unique ways of operating which allow it to function smoothly (and produce a high-quality product) in an environment where thousands of lines of code are being changed every day.
So it is not surprising that Linux kernel development process differs greatly from proprietary development methods.
The kernel's development process may come across as intimidating to new developers, but there are good reasons for having this process.
The development community is helpful to those who are trying to learn andhas little time for those who will not follow the guidelines of the development process.