Zack's Kernel News

Monitoring the PCI Bus

Rick Jones of Hewlett-Packard has announced PCItop, a new GPLed tool, similar to the "top" system monitor, that reports on the activity running across the PCI bus. Currently, only HP Integrity systems are supported, but Rick has invited anyone to join in and help support other platforms.

Kernel Development for Employers

Jonathan Corbet has written a nice long document about kernel development from the perspective of employers and the kernel developers working for them. The document was written to be included in the kernel sources, but it might find a home on the kernel.org website as well. 

The main point seems to be that learning the ins and outs of the development process and culture will help companies manage their own expectations and get where they want quicker.

As Jonathon puts it in one of the introductory paragraphs, "The kernel's development process may come across as strange and intimidating to new developers, but there are good reasons and solid experience behind it.

A developer who does not understand the kernel community's ways (or, worse, who tries to flout or circumvent them) will have a frustrating experience in store. The development community, while being helpful to those who are trying to learn, has little time for those who will not listen or who do not care about the development process."

Certainly this is true. Countless examples exist of developers trying – in some cases for years – to force their code into the kernel (ReiserFS being a relatively recent example), only to find developers losing interest who could have provided the necessary feedback to get that code accepted.

The document starts off with a general introduction to the value of getting code into the official tree, the various licensing issues, and an explanation of versioning and release schedules.

After that follows a detailed explanation of the "life cycle" of a submitted patch. This part describes the various tools and mailing lists that might be useful to new developers. It then gives a quite detailed explanation of everything a developer would need to do, from idea to implementation to incorporation of code into the tree, including a nifty list of pitfalls to avoid, such as problems surrounding #ifdef usage.

The whole document is really very thorough and forms a very impressive use-oriented snapshot of the ongoing cultural development of the kernel developer community.

Jonathon has given a lot of wonderful texts to the Linux community over the years, and this document is another excellent effort on his part. But also, by incorporating the document into the kernel sources, it becomes a living document that has already received lots of suggestions and changes from folks like Andrew Morton and others.

Read the document online at: http://ldn.linuxfoundation.org/book/1-what-this-document-is-about

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