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Linux contributors are programmers who actively work on the Linux kernel–a huge open source project that has been in continuous development for over 25 years. The Linux kernel is a Unix-like open source operating system kernel that was created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds and quickly became popular with developers and users, who adapted it for other projects. The Linux family of OSes and distros are all based on the Linux kernel, and can be found on PCs, servers, and devices like routers, smart TVs, set-top boxes, and more. The Android OS is a Linux derivative that is used on things like smartphones, tablet computers and wearables.

Most of the contributors to the Linux kernel are not unpaid volunteers, but come from some of the largest software and hardware vendors in the world, and are paid by their employers to contribute. Since 2005, over 14,000 contributors from more than 1300 companies have contributed to the kernel. Only about 8% of the contributions are now from unpaid developers, and their skills are in such high demand that they are frequently hired by companies who pay people to contribute.

The development process used by the Linux contributors enables development on the Linux kernel to takes place at a rapid pace. In 2017, they accepted 8.5 changes into the kernel per hour – about 204 changes every day. They space their releases 63-70 days apart, which provides predictability, and the community works together to fix regressions and find bugs before they reach the kernel.