UDS Brussels: Prototype tool helps tracking kernel patches

May 14, 2010

Canonical's Steve Conklin presented the Patchtracker in the kernel roundtable during the first day of the international Ubuntu Developer Summit.

Steve Conklin, member of the kernel team at Canonical, wrote the patchtracker during the last couple of months, much of it in the last two weeks. The patchtracker is written in python running on the Django framework. It allows developers to locate all git branches in which a certain kernel patch found its way.

Kernel team member Steve Conklin (2nd from the right in the foreground, black T-Shirt) presents his new patch tracker in the kernel roundtable on Monday.

Conklin himself came up with the tool, because he was looking for a way to track various patches from upstream developers across different repositories. In this special case, he needed to keep his overview of the Intel graphics driver, which was to be applied both to Ubuntu Karmic Koala and Lucid Lynx. But even for other programmers this tool might be useful, because it can generally help identify the source of bugs.

"If the bluetooth module doesn't work in a distribution release but works in the latest mainline kernel," he explains, "The tool should quickly display the set of patches which are in upstream trees but not in a particular release. This is enabling one to see which small set of patches might contain the fix."

Conklin qualifies that this software (GPLv2 or later) is just a prototype that has proven the value of the concept. 'Soon I hope to have some improved configuration tools and examples, and a live web site demonstrating the tool', he adds. A website linking to the git source is already there.

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