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15 February 2012, 11:52

Developer values Debian at £12.1 billion

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Zoom Analysis of the programming languages that were used to write the software that is contained in Debian.
Source: James Bromberger

An analysis by Debian and CPAN developer James Bromberger concludes that it would cost about $19.1 billion (£12.1 billion) to develop the software currently included in Debian Wheezy (7.0) from scratch. For his analysis, the developer used the Sloccount program to count the lines of source code of the software that is in Wheezy; he then calculated how much it would cost to have developers on an average salary write the almost 420 million lines of code.

Bromberger's analysis is based on an average annual salary of $72,533 (derived from median estimates from and and assumes a "standard" level of code complexity. In another example, Bromberger states that kernel version 3.1.8 includes 10 million lines of code and would, according to his calculation model, cost around $540 million; if considered "complex", the cost would be $1,877 million, he added. The developer also notes that a different analysis carried out in 2011 concluded that the kernel is worth more than $3 billion. This statement highlights the potential inaccuracy and vagueness of such analyses.

Bromberger has also looked into various other projects and has concluded that developing Samba 3.6.1 from scratch would cost $101 million, while Apache 2.2.9 would cost $33.5 million. The developer also analysed the programming languages that were used to develop the Debian software – ANSI C is in the clear lead at 40%, followed by C++ at 20% and Java at 8%.


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