Practical Technology

for practical people.

204.5-Million lines of code equals one great Linux distribution


Maybe, just maybe, the best things in life really are free. Take Linux, for example. It’s a great, free operating system that you don’t have to spend a dime on. You can use it to run the New York Stock Exchange’s servers; you can use it to run your desktop; and you can use it to run your mobile phone.

The latest Linux Foundation’s report, Estimating the Total Development Cost of a Linux Distribution reminds me again of just how truly valuable and remarkable this ‘free’ operating system really is. In this study, the Foundation analyzed how many lines of code are actually in Red Hat’s community Fedora 9 Linux distribution, and how much it would cost, in today’s dollars, with today’s software development costs, to have written it as a proprietary operating system.

The Foundation started by using Linux and security programmer David A. Wheeler’s methodology from his 2002’s groundbreaking study, Linux: More Than a Gigabuck: Estimating GNU/Linux’s Size. The results of applying these tools to 2008’s Fedora 9 Linux came out to a total of 204,500,946 physical SLOC (Source Lines of Code) and a cost of $10,784,484,309. But, lucky you, you can download it for free from the Fedora Web site and you won’t need to spend a penny on it.

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