James Governor's Monkchips

Wow. Sun’s open source contributions blow everyone else away, IBM left in the dust

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According to the EU Sun has contributed more than three times as much code to open source than IBM.
IBM may have more patents, but which is more likely to engender EU innovation through the grassroots?

I certainly know which stat I would be more proud of. Time for IBM to make some more contributions? I bet ten bucks Bob Sutor hammers me for this post.

From a shareholder value perspective its interesting that IBM has led in patent filings for the last thirteen years. But its only now its becoming more liberal about its patents that its benefiting from the kind of collaborative innovation that is driving its bottom line.

One more time folks – Lets. Reform. The. Patent. System.

I live in what might be considered a pretty rough area of London but I don’t carry a knife for my “defense”. If I lived in the States in a rough area I wouldn’t carry a gun. The argument that “everyone else abuses the system so we have to” is pathetic. We might as well argue that it become the law we all keep a gun at home.

Leadership comes from doing things differently from the pack, not the same. On that note I would also like to see Sun make a once and future no patent assertion covenant.

But I tend to think congratulations are in order. Well done Sun Microsystems for making a contribution.


  1. AFAIK these numbers don’t take Java into account either.

  2. One thing I noticed (initially sparked in my mind by the presence of Ximian in the list) is that the information must be slightly dated. I don’t claim to know what difference that would have made, although IBM has been active in e.g. Geronimo development in more recent times. I’m also somewhat surprised by Red Hat’s relatively light showing, but that may be an issue of size. Of course with the recent Java announcement, Sun’s contribution will grow again.

    I’ll have a read of the report itself when I have time, but so far I’ve not reviewed it in detail.

    Regardless of any partisan views, it is interesting to see just how much software is being developed through open source models now. That’s a lot of code.

  3. We’re at the point now where we know that all lines of code aren’t created equal though, right? KLOC is a pretty meaningless measurement in the quality arena, so what makes it more meaningful when we’re talking about open-source contributions?

    I’d be a lot more interested to see these numbers weighted by adoption. We know roughly how many Eclipse and NetBeans installations there are in the wild, and how large those source bases are; How many people actually *use* the stuff that Sun and IBM (and everyone else) “contributes”?

  4. Its a fair point Dan: that’s an interesting question considering useage. I would have thought the number of openoffice users has got to dwarf Eclipse. a couple of orders of magnitude probably. i am not sure of that – but comparing IDEs to Office suites probably makes Sun look like even more of a contributor.

  5. Like Pat, I’m also jealous of Sun’s leadership in OSS KLOC.

    In hindsight, perhaps back in 2001 we should have open-sourced OS2 rather than Eclipse, since it was many times larger.


  6. OS/2 was a fine operating system Bill. if it could have held on for just a couple more years, IBM probably would have open sourced it.. and banks might have invested some time and money into it. Lots of what if there, but with the instant escrow affect of OSS some interesting scenarios could have played out.

    If the research is out of date, and i need to drill into it, then it probably doesn’t include some of Sun’s latest contributions either, as per Alexis point.

    I am well aware of Eclipse and its fundamental refactoring of industry economics. i give IBM a great deal of credit for that. Eclipse is certainly driving plenty of innovation in Europe. Just look at Nuxeo’s rich client front ends, for example.

    Red Hat doesn’t have the assets the major players have, in existing code, or employee numbers, so I don’t find that so surprising. Its a master packager, but I wouldn’t point to Red Hat as a major development organisation, though JBoss obviously added a lot of talent and so on.

    Not sure whether

  7. Sun ranked 1st overall for contributions to Debian, so this doesn’t include Java, OpenSolaris, NetBeans, GridEngine, Looking Glass, etc.

  8. You lose. We’ll find a pub where you can spend the $10.


  9. damn Bob – I have it when that happens. We better wait til I come over the to States – 10 bucks won’t last too long in an English pub… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. But it may have the same effect. I’d guess that two $5 English beers might give you the same buzz as five $2 light American beers … with the added benefit that you’re not a regular in the restroom for the next three hours!

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