Faster and Leaner: Linux-tiny

Sep 21, 2007

The smallest kernel, put together thanks to a collection of patches by the Linux-tiny project, weighs in at just 197KB. After two years of inactivity, maintainers Michael Opdenacker and other developers are looking to breath new life into the project.

The "Linux-tiny Project" was originally launched by Matt Mackall, who was the maintainer of the patch kit for several years. Tim Bird, on of the members of the new team, which also includes John Cooper, who works for embedded system specialists Wind River, announced the rebirth of the project on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (lkml). The first new patch kit has been updated, and is now available for kernel 2.6.22. The main objective of the current releases is comprehensive testing to evaluate the most effective sub-patches over the next few months. The target platform is old 386 systems and handhelds say the developers.

Kernel Maintainer Andrew Morton said he was thrilled, posting on the kernel mailing list. He would like to add the patches to the "-mm" tree to integrate them with the mainline kernel as quickly as possible. He writes "putting this stuff into some private patch collection should be a complete last resort - you should only do this with patches which you (and the rest of us) agree have no hope of ever getting into mainline."

Michael Opdenacker, the new project maintainer, agrees with Morton's suggestion: "you're completely right... The patches should all aim at being included into mainline or die." Tim Bird adds that "The patch kit gives a place for things to live while they are out of mainline, and still have multiple people use and work on them.", and goes on to say, "Optimally the duration of being out-of-mainline would be short, but my experience is that sometimes what an embedded developer considers reasonable to hack off the kernel is not considered so reasonable by other developers (even with config options)."

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