The researchers at code analysis firm Coverity found only 985 bugs in 5.7 million lines of code in Linux 2.6.9, which is currently being used in many of the latest distributions of the open source operating system. This works out at 0.17 bugs per 1,000 lines code. Commercial software is estimated to have around 20 to 30 bugs per 1,000 lines of code.
Seth Hallem, CEO of Coverity, said the very low number of bugs found in the OS was evidence of the quality of Linux code. He added the remaining security holes could be eliminated with good programming processes.
About 100 of these are thought to be security related and are believed to have been fixed by developers working on the code.
The researchers began running audits against the Linux code four years ago while still at Stanford University Computer Science Research Center. Coverity will make the reports available on a regular basis to the open source community.linuxbugs.coverity.com