While Microsoft Windows is built by an army of the software giant's paid engineers, Linux is written by a community of contributors. Yet joining that community isn't as easy e-mailing a piece of code to, say, Linus Torvalds, the OS's originator.
That fact has long dogged the Linux community, supporters say, fostering a belief that joining the effort is difficult owing to the fairly complex processes and procedures already in place for adding and reviewing code.
As a result, the Linux Foundation is aiming to simplify the task of contributing code, with a new guide to helping would-be contributors to the Linux kernel.
"The idea that working with the kernel community is hard, to me, is a myth or at least a misconception," Linux kernel contributor Jonathan Corbet told InternetNews.com. "It is only hard if you don't take the time to learn how the community works."
"Whenever you step into a large, organized operation, there are going to be some ground rules, and if you ignore those rules, you will find working with the community very hard," said Corbet, who authored the guide.
Considering that Linux is rapidly gaining momentum in the enterprise, understanding how to freely participate in kernel development could benefit developers, hardware vendors and others, who get a chance to work closely with the OS and get improved code quality. Additionally, by lowering the barriers to effective participation in the Linux community, the OS and its users also stand to benefit.
While the belief about the difficulty of contributing to Linux has persisted for some time, not everyone has bought into the idea. A recent study from the Linux Foundation reported that there are over 1,000 individual contributors to Linux, representing over 100 different companies.
Corbet said the new guide, which is available on the new Linux Developer Network, came about after discussion with the Linux Foundation and its membership.
"My goal was driven by talking with folks that wished they had something they could hand out to companies and developers to see how to participate and get their code into the kernel," he said.