If I had to name the open source projects with the largest development teams, Gnome and KDE would probably come to mind. After that though, I would struggle to name something with a particularly large following.
So I was amazed, and at the same time pleased, to read on the LXDE devlopment blog that they rank quite high in the list of active projects on Ohloh. You can double-check the figures and the rankings with the links on that entry; I had to look for myself too, but apparently it’s true.
Of course mentioning LXDE in the same breath as KDE and Gnome will make some people bristle. Obviously a project with more than 430 contributors and one with 26 are in different leagues, even if the statistics show them in close succession.
Personally though, I think it’s fantastic. If you take a look at the code analysis for LXDE you can see how the project has grown since 2006. And while code size doesn’t always correspond to useful software, it does suggest that a lot of people are interested, and actively contributing — with updates appearing as recently as last week, even.
You can interpret that any way you like, but for me it reinforces my own hopes that people are more interested in light and efficient software, and maybe even shifting away from heavyweight desktop environments in favor of faster alternatives. I know the full Gnome suite is ideal for some, but I know of very, very few people who take the time to learn a lightweight alternative, and then go back to a resource hog. The difference is just too impressive.
Regardless of how I understand the numbers, the LXDE team deserves a smilie for putting together effective and efficient software, and at the same time becoming such a “heavyweight” in the development world … pun intended.