Linux Foundation Says Open Source Code Worth $5 Billion

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 01, 2015

Here at OStatic, we've been covering the commercial value that open source has been driving for years. Now, The LInux Foundation is out with a related report titled “A $5 Billion Value: Estimating the Total Development Cost of Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects.”

It’s hard to put a price on open source software platforms for numerous reasons, but Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects are independently funded software projects that harness the power of collaborative development to fuel innovation across industries and ecosystems. The organization was able to supply some concrete metrics to show the billions of dollars of value that open source is creating.

“Over the last few years every major technology category has been taken over by open source and so much opinion has been shared about the proliferation of open source projects, but not about the value,” said Amanda McPherson, vice president of developer programs and CMO at Linux Foundation, and co-author of the report. “As the model for building the world’s most important technologies have evolved from the past's build vs. buy dichotomy, it is important to understand the economic value of this development model. We hope our new paper can help contribute to that understanding.”

The new report’s findings are based on David A. Wheeler’s proven COCOMO Model, which he pioneered in 2002 to inform what became a well-regarded study that assessed the value of a Linux distribution (The Linux Foundation performed a similar assessment in 2008). It assesses the Software Lines of Code (SLOC) in a project and the estimated person years and development costs associated to produce a value of the development costs (more detail is provided in the complete report).

The new report is billed by the foundation as the first attempt to estimate the cost of how much it would take to develop the technology and understand the value these projects collectively deliver to the industry.

Using Wheeler’s model, key findings in the report include:

The total lines of source code present today in Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects are 115,013,302.

The estimated, total amount of effort required to retrace the steps of collaborative development for these projects is 41,192.25 person years.  

In other words, it would take 1,356 developers 30 years to recreate the code bases present in Linux Foundation’s current Collaborative Projects. The total economic value of this work is estimated to be over 5 billion dollars.

Current Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects include AllSeen Alliance, Automotive Grade Linux, Cloud Foundry Foundation, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Code Aurora Forum, Core Infrastructure Initiative, Dronecode, IO Visor, IoTivity, Kinetic Open Storage Project, Let’s Encrypt, Node.js Foundation, Open Container Project, Open Mainframe Project, OPNFV, Open Virtualization Alliance, OpenDaylight, openMAMA, R Consortium, Tizen, Xen Project and Yocto Project. Not all projects were included in the analysis due to a variety just becoming LF Collaborative Projects. More details are available in the complete report.

“When people have the tools and connections to collaborate on a massive scale, any problem can be solved,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at Linux Foundation. “We believe only the Distributed Genius of thousands of people working as one can solve the most challenging problems of our time. Collaboration is today’s competitive advantage.”

If you want to download the full report, you can visit The Linux Foundation’s Publication’s website at