Researchers at the University of Oviedo in Spain have estimated that the cost of replicating the development embodied in the Linux kernel at over €1bn.
The two academics, Jesús García-García and Isabel Alonso de Magdaleno, estimated the cost of replacing the kernel at current European prices using the Constructive Cost Model 81 algorithm, often used to estimate the cost of traditional commercial software projects.
According to their calculations, it would take almost 1,000 developers approximately 14 years to recreate the open source operating system, at an average salary of just over €31,000. Interestingly, the cost of development has risen sharply in recent years, growing from around €100m in 2005 to €225m in 2008. This reflects both the growing complexity of kernel development, and the general rise in software development costs throughout the Eurozone.
The researchers end with the claim that the thought experiment is not intended to determine the actual value of the software, but to give policymakers a greater appreciation of the potential benefits of community-based collaboration. A copy of the research can be viewed here.
This story was first spotted by jesgar at Slashdot.