Zack's Kernel News

Zack's Kernel News

Article from Issue 226/2019
Author(s):

Adding git Documentation; Untangling the System Call Situation; and Bit or Bitmap?

Adding git Documentation

Documentation is lovely. One especially lovely form of documentation identifies the reasons for using a particular tool in a certain way. Jonathan Corbet recently documented how maintainers should use git to do merges and rebases within the context of feeding patches from many developers up to higher-level maintainers and ultimately up to Linus Torvalds for inclusion in the official kernel tree.

It's no wonder that the situation is tricky. When Linus wrote the git tool, he created a situation in which one group of developers could "pull" an entire tree of development and treat their version essentially as the top of a whole other project. Then other groups of developers could pull that tree into their own sub-projects, and so on, like a spider plant budding little spider plants off of it. This hadn't really existed before, and it's a kind of weird topology, when you consider that earlier revision control systems had none of that. Developers simply contributed to one central repository, with no branching or merging of which to speak – Just one spider plant, but no others budding off it.

As owner of their own sub-projects, maintainers coordinate work among developers coding on that sub-project. To keep things clean, they might do things like edit individual commits after they've already been accepted into the sub-tree or reorder a bunch of commits to have a more logical-seeming history. This is all normal, especially in a large and complex project where the history of the work is crucial for identifying copyright ownership and finding the particular patches that introduced bugs. This editing and reordering is called "rebasing."

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