How Was Linux Created? The Processes Behind Managing 13,500 Developers

You have probably used Linux today — especially if you don’t have an iPhone. And if you browsed the web today, there’s a big chance that the website you visited was served by Linux, too.

Linux is an operating system, but unlike software like Microsoft Windows and macOS, Linux was developed by a self-organized community of volunteers.

Over time, with the effort of over 10,000 developers and evolving processes to manage the scale of work, the Linux kernel has grown to over 20,000,000 lines of code in total. It forms the stable foundation for…

  • Every Android phone and tablet on the planet
  • 66% of the world’s servers
  • 100% of the top 500 supercomputers

This technology didn’t come from an orchestrated team with a thick policy book and layers of management. It came from a few carefully-chosen and culturally-embedded policies, and a shared mission.

In this post, I look at how a technology so essential, complex and important could have been produced so effectively without traditional management structure. But first…

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