9 files changed, 2042 insertions, 0 deletions
diff --git a/Documentation/00-INDEX b/Documentation/00-INDEX
index 5b5aba404aa..1f3dbdfc9ae 100644
@@ -21,6 +21,9 @@ Changes
- list of changes that break older software packages.
- how the boss likes the C code in the kernel to look.
+ - An extended tutorial on how to work with the kernel development
- DMA API, pci_ API & extensions for non-consistent memory machines.
diff --git a/Documentation/development-process/1.Intro b/Documentation/development-process/1.Intro
new file mode 100644
@@ -0,0 +1,274 @@
+1: A GUIDE TO THE KERNEL DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
+The purpose of this document is to help developers (and their managers)
+work with the development community with a minimum of frustration. It is
+an attempt to document how this community works in a way which is
+accessible to those who are not intimately familiar with Linux kernel
+development (or, indeed, free software development in general). While
+there is some technical material here, this is very much a process-oriented
+discussion which does not require a deep knowledge of kernel programming to
+1.1: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
+The rest of this section covers the scope of the kernel development process
+and the kinds of frustrations that developers and their employers can
+encounter there. There are a great many reasons why kernel code should be
+merged into the official ("mainline") kernel, including automatic
+availability to users, community support in many forms, and the ability to
+influence the direction of kernel development. Code contributed to the
+Linux kernel must be made available under a GPL-compatible license.
+Section 2 introduces the development process, the kernel release cycle, and
+the mechanics of the merge window. The various phases in the patch
+development, review, and merging cycle are covered. There is some
+discussion of tools and mailing lists. Developers wanting to get started
+with kernel development are encouraged to track down and fix bugs as an
+Section 3 covers early-stage project planning, with an emphasis on
+involving the development community as soon as possible.
+Section 4 is about the coding process; several pitfalls which have been
+encountered by other developers are discussed. Some requirements for
+patches are covered, and there is an introduction to some of the tools
+which can help to ensure that kernel patches are correct.
+Section 5 talks about the process of posting patches for review. To be
+taken seriously by the development community, patches must be properly
+formatted and described, and they must be sent to the right place.
+Following the advice in this section should help to ensure the best
+possible reception for your work.
+Section 6 covers what happens after posting patches; the job is far from
+done at that point. Working with reviewers is a crucial part of the
+development process; this section offers a number of tips on how to avoid
+problems at this important stage. Developers are cautioned against
+assuming that the job is done when a patch is merged into the mainline.
+Section 7 introduces a couple of "advanced" topics: managing patches with
+git and reviewing patches posted by others.
+Section 8 concludes the document with pointers to sources for more
+information on kernel development.
+1.2: WHAT THIS DOCUMENT IS ABOUT
+The Linux kernel, at over 6 million lines of code and well over 1000 active
+contributors, is one of the largest and most active free software projects
+in existence. Since its humble beginning in 1991, this kernel has evolved
+into a best-of-breed operating system component which runs on pocket-sized
+digital music players, desktop PCs, the largest supercomputers in
+existence, and all types of systems in between. It is a robust, efficient,
+and scalable solution for almost any situation.
+With the growth of Linux has come an increase in the number of developers
+(and companies) wishing to participate in its development. Hardware
+vendors want to ensure that Linux supports their products well, making
+those products attractive to Linux users. Embedded systems vendors, who
+use Linux as a component in an integrated product, want Linux to be as
+capable and well-suited to the task at hand as possible. Distributors and
+other software vendors who base their products on Linux have a clear
+interest in the capabilities, performance, and reliability of the Linux
+kernel. And end users, too, will often wish to change Linux to make it
+better suit their needs.
+One of the most compelling features of Linux is that it is accessible to
+these developers; anybody with the requisite skills can improve Linux and
+influence the direction of its development. Proprietary products cannot
+offer this kind of openness, which is a characteristic of the free software
+process. But, if anything, the kernel is even more open than most other
+free software projects. A typical three-month kernel development cycle can
+involve over 1000 developers working for more than 100 different companies
+(or for no company at all).
+Working with the kernel development community is not especially hard. But,
+that notwithstanding, many potential contributors have experienced
+difficulties when trying to do kernel work. The kernel community has
+evolved its own distinct ways of operating which allow it to function
+smoothly (and produce a high-quality product) in an environment where
+thousands of lines of code are being changed every day. So it is not
+surprising that Linux kernel development process differs greatly from
+proprietary development methods.
+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.
+It is hoped that those who read this document will be able to avoid that
+frustrating experience. There is a lot of material here, but the effort
+involved in reading it will be repaid in short order. The development
+community is always in need of developers who will help to make the kernel
+better; the following text should help you - or those who work for you -
+join our community.
+This document was written by Jonathan Corbet, email@example.com. It has been
+improved by comments from Johannes Berg, James Berry, Alex Chiang, Roland
+Dreier, Randy Dunlap, Jake Edge, Jiri Kosina, Matt Mackall, Arthur Marsh,
+Amanda McPherson, Andrew Morton, Andrew Price, Tsugikazu Shibata, and
+This work was supported by the Linux Foundation; thanks especially to
+Amanda McPherson, who saw the value of this effort and made it all happen.
+1.4: THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING CODE INTO THE MAINLINE
+Some companies and developers occasionally wonder why they should bother
+learning how to work with the kernel community and get their code into the
+mainline kernel (the "mainline" being the kernel maintained by Linus
+Torvalds and used as a base by Linux distributors). In the short term,
+contributing code can look like an avoidable expense; it seems easier to
+just keep the code separate and support users directly. The truth of the
+matter is that keeping code separate ("out of tree") is a false economy.
+As a way of illustrating the costs of out-of-tree code, here are a few
+relevant aspects of the kernel development process; most of these will be
+discussed in greater detail later in this document. Consider:
+- Code which has been merged into the mainline kernel is available to all
+ Linux users. It will automatically be present on all distributions which
+ enable it. There is no need for driver disks, downloads, or the hassles
+ of supporting multiple versions of multiple distributions; it all just
+ works, for the developer and for the user. Incorporation into the
+ mainline solves a large number of distribution and support problems.
+- While kernel developers strive to maintain a stable interface to user
+ space, the internal kernel API is in constant flux. The lack of a stable
+ internal interface is a deliberate design decision; it allows fundamental
+ improvements to be made at any time and results in higher-quality code.
+ But one result of that policy is that any out-of-tree code requires
+ constant upkeep if it is to work with new kernels. Maintaining
+ out-of-tree code requires significant amounts of work just to keep that
+ code working.
+ Code which is in the mainline, instead, does not require this work as the
+ result of a simple rule requiring any developer who makes an API change
+ to also fix any code that breaks as the result of that change. So code
+ which has been merged into the mainline has significantly lower
+ maintenance costs.
+- Beyond that, code which is in the kernel will often be improved by other
+ developers. Surprising results can come from empowering your user
+ community and customers to improve your product.
+- Kernel code is subjected to review, both before and after merging into
+ the mainline. No matter how strong the original developer's skills are,
+ this review process invariably finds ways in which the code can be
+ improved. Often review finds severe bugs and security problems. This is
+ especially true for code which has been developed in a closed
+ environment; such code benefits strongly from review by outside
+ developers. Out-of-tree code is lower-quality code.
+- Participation in the development process is your way to influence the
+ direction of kernel development. Users who complain from the sidelines
+ are heard, but active developers have a stronger voice - and the ability
+ to implement changes which make the kernel work better for their needs.
+- When code is maintained separately, the possibility that a third party
+ will contribute a different implementation of a similar feature always
+ exists. Should that happen, getting your code merged will become much
+ harder - to the point of impossibility. Then you will be faced with the
+ unpleasant alternatives of either (1) maintaining a nonstandard feature
+ out of tree indefinitely, or (2) abandoning your code and migrating your
+ users over to the in-tree version.
+- Contribution of code is the fundamental action which makes the whole
+ process work. By contributing your code you can add new functionality to
+ the kernel and provide capabilities and examples which are of use to
+ other kernel developers. If you have developed code for Linux (or are
+ thinking about doing so), you clearly have an interest in the continued
+ success of this platform; contributing code is one of the best ways to
+ help ensure that success.
+All of the reasoning above applies to any out-of-tree kernel code,
+including code which is distributed in proprietary, binary-only form.
+There are, however, additional factors which should be taken into account
+before considering any sort of binary-only kernel code distribution. These
+- The legal issues around the distribution of proprietary kernel modules
+ are cloudy at best; quite a few kernel copyright holders believe that
+ most binary-only modules are derived products of the kernel and that, as
+ a result, their distribution is a violation of the GNU General Public
+ license (about which more will be said below). Your author is not a
+ lawyer, and nothing in this document can possibly be considered to be
+ legal advice. The true legal status of closed-source modules can only be
+ determined by the courts. But the uncertainty which haunts those modules
+ is there regardless.
+- Binary modules greatly increase the difficulty of debugging kernel
+ problems, to the point that most kernel developers will not even try. So
+ the distribution of binary-only modules will make it harder for your
+ users to get support from the community.
+- Support is also harder for distributors of binary-only modules, who must
+ provide a version of the module for every distribution and every kernel
+ version they wish to support. Dozens of builds of a single module can
+ be required to provide reasonably comprehensive coverage, and your users
+ will have to upgrade your module separately every time they upgrade their
+- Everything that was said above about code review applies doubly to
+ closed-source code. Since this code is not available at all, it cannot
+ have been reviewed by the community and will, beyond doubt, have serious
+Makers of embedded systems, in particular, may be tempted to disregard much
+of what has been said in this section in the belief that they are shipping
+a self-contained product which uses a frozen kernel version and requires no
+more development after its release. This argument misses the value of
+widespread code review and the value of allowing your users to add
+capabilities to your product. But these products, too, have a limited
+commercial life, after which a new version must be released. At that
+point, vendors whose code is in the mainline and well maintained will be
+much better positioned to get the new product ready for market quickly.
+Code is contributed to the Linux kernel under a number of licenses, but all
+code must be compatible with version 2 of the GNU General Public License
+(GPLv2), which is the license covering the kernel distribution as a whole.
+In practice, that means that all code contributions are covered either by
+GPLv2 (with, optionally, language allowing distribution under later
+versions of the GPL) or the three-clause BSD license. Any contributions
+which are not covered by a compatible license will not be accepted into the
+Copyright assignments are not required (or requested) for code contributed
+to the kernel. All code merged into the mainline kernel retains its
+original ownership; as a result, the kernel now has thousands of owners.
+One implication of this ownership structure is that any attempt to change
+the licensing of the kernel is doomed to almost certain failure. There are
+few practical scenarios where the agreement of all copyright holders could
+be obtained (or their code removed from the kernel). So, in particular,
+there is no prospect of a migration to version 3 of the GPL in the
+It is imperative that all code contributed to the kernel be legitimately
+free software. For that reason, code from anonymous (or pseudonymous)
+contributors will not be accepted. All contributors are required to "sign
+off" on their code, stating that the code can be distributed with the
+kernel under the GPL. Code which has not been licensed as free software by
+its owner, or which risks creating copyright-related problems for the
+kernel (such as code which derives from reverse-engineering efforts lacking
+proper safeguards) cannot be contributed.
+Questions about copyright-related issues are common on Linux development
+mailing lists. Such questions will normally receive no shortage of
+answers, but one should bear in mind that the people answering those
+questions are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice. If you have
+legal questions relating to Linux source code, there is no substitute for
+talking with a lawyer who understands this field. Relying on answers
+obtained on technical mailing lists is a risky affair.
diff --git a/Documentation/development-process/2.Process b/Documentation/development-process/2.Process
new file mode 100644
@@ -0,0 +1,459 @@
+2: HOW THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS WORKS
+Linux kernel development in the early 1990's was a pretty loose affair,
+with relatively small numbers of users and developers involved. With a
+user base in the millions and with some 2,000 developers involved over the
+course of one year, the kernel has since had to evolve a number of
+processes to keep development happening smoothly. A solid understanding of
+how the process works is required in order to be an effective part of it.
+2.1: THE BIG PICTURE
+The kernel developers use a loosely time-based release process, with a new
+major kernel release happening every two or three months. The recent
+release history looks like this:
+ 2.6.26 July 13, 2008
+ 2.6.25 April 16, 2008
+ 2.6.24 January 24, 2008
+ 2.6.23 October 9, 2007
+ 2.6.22 July 8, 2007
+ 2.6.21 April 25, 2007
+ 2.6.20 February 4, 2007
+Every 2.6.x release is a major kernel release with new features, internal
+API changes, and more. A typical 2.6 release can contain over 10,000
+changesets with changes to several hundred thousand lines of code. 2.6 is
+thus the leading edge of Linux kernel development; the kernel uses a
+rolling development model which is continually integrating major changes.
+A relatively straightforward discipline is followed with regard to the
+merging of patches for each release. At the beginning of each development
+cycle, the "merge window" is said to be open. At that time, code which is
+deemed to be sufficiently stable (and which is accepted by the development
+community) is merged into the mainline kernel. The bulk of changes for a
+new development cycle (and all of the major changes) will be merged during
+this time, at a rate approaching 1,000 changes ("patches," or "changesets")
+(As an aside, it is worth noting that the changes integrated during the
+merge window do not come out of thin air; they have been collected, tested,
+and staged ahead of time. How that process works will be described in
+detail later on).
+The merge window lasts for two weeks. At the end of this time, Linus
+Torvalds will declare that the window is closed and release the first of
+the "rc" kernels. For the kernel which is destined to be 2.6.26, for
+example, the release which happens at the end of the merge window will be
+called 2.6.26-rc1. The -rc1 release is the signal that the time to merge
+new features has passed, and that the time to stabilize the next kernel has
+Over the next six to ten weeks, only patches which fix problems should be
+submitted to the mainline. On occasion a more significant change will be
+allowed, but such occasions are rare; developers who try to merge new
+features outside of the merge window tend to get an unfriendly reception.
+As a general rule, if you miss the merge window for a given feature, the
+best thing to do is to wait for the next development cycle. (An occasional
+exception is made for drivers for previously-unsupported hardware; if they
+touch no in-tree code, they cannot cause regressions and should be safe to
+add at any time).
+As fixes make their way into the mainline, the patch rate will slow over
+time. Linus releases new -rc kernels about once a week; a normal series
+will get up to somewhere between -rc6 and -rc9 before the kernel is
+considered to be sufficiently stable and the final 2.6.x release is made.
+At that point the whole process starts over again.
+As an example, here is how the 2.6.25 development cycle went (all dates in
+ January 24 2.6.24 stable release
+ February 10 2.6.25-rc1, merge window closes
+ February 15 2.6.25-rc2
+ February 24 2.6.25-rc3
+ March 4 2.6.25-rc4
+ March 9 2.6.25-rc5
+ March 16 2.6.25-rc6
+ March 25 2.6.25-rc7
+ April 1 2.6.25-rc8
+ April 11 2.6.25-rc9
+ April 16 2.6.25 stable release
+How do the developers decide when to close the development cycle and create
+the stable release? The most significant metric used is the list of
+regressions from previous releases. No bugs are welcome, but those which
+break systems which worked in the past are considered to be especially
+serious. For this reason, patches which cause regressions are looked upon
+unfavorably and are quite likely to be reverted during the stabilization
+The developers' goal is to fix all known regressions before the stable
+release is made. In the real world, this kind of perfection is hard to
+achieve; there are just too many variables in a project of this size.
+There comes a point where delaying the final release just makes the problem
+worse; the pile of changes waiting for the next merge window will grow
+larger, creating even more regressions the next time around. So most 2.6.x
+kernels go out with a handful of known regressions though, hopefully, none
+of them are serious.
+Once a stable release is made, its ongoing maintenance is passed off to the
+"stable team," currently comprised of Greg Kroah-Hartman and Chris Wright.
+The stable team will release occasional updates to the stable release using
+the 2.6.x.y numbering scheme. To be considered for an update release, a
+patch must (1) fix a significant bug, and (2) already be merged into the
+mainline for the next development kernel. Continuing our 2.6.25 example,
+the history (as of this writing) is:
+ May 1 22.214.171.124
+ May 6 126.96.36.199
+ May 9 188.8.131.52
+ May 15 184.108.40.206
+ June 7 220.127.116.11
+ June 9 18.104.22.168
+ June 16 22.214.171.124
+ June 21 126.96.36.199
+ June 24 188.8.131.52
+Stable updates for a given kernel are made for approximately six months;
+after that, the maintenance of stable releases is solely the responsibility
+of the distributors which have shipped that particular kernel.
+2.2: THE LIFECYCLE OF A PATCH
+Patches do not go directly from the developer's keyboard into the mainline
+kernel. There is, instead, a somewhat involved (if somewhat informal)
+process designed to ensure that each patch is reviewed for quality and that
+each patch implements a change which is desirable to have in the mainline.
+This process can happen quickly for minor fixes, or, in the case of large
+and controversial changes, go on for years. Much developer frustration
+comes from a lack of understanding of this process or from attempts to
+In the hopes of reducing that frustration, this document will describe how
+a patch gets into the kernel. What follows below is an introduction which
+describes the process in a somewhat idealized way. A much more detailed
+treatment will come in later sections.
+The stages that a patch goes through are, generally:
+ - Design. This is where the real requirements for the patch - and the way
+ those requirements will be met - are laid out. Design work is often
+ done without involving the community, but it is better to do this work
+ in the open if at all possible; it can save a lot of time redesigning
+ things later.
+ - Early review. Patches are posted to the relevant mailing list, and
+ developers on that list reply with any comments they may have. This
+ process should turn up any major problems with a patch if all goes
+ - Wider review. When the patch is getting close to ready for mainline
+ inclusion, it will be accepted by a relevant subsystem maintainer -
+ though this acceptance is not a guarantee that the patch will make it
+ all the way to the mainline. The patch will show up in the maintainer's
+ subsystem tree and into the staging trees (described below). When the
+ process works, this step leads to more extensive review of the patch and
+ the discovery of any problems resulting from the integration of this
+ patch with work being done by others.
+ - Merging into the mainline. Eventually, a successful patch will be
+ merged into the mainline repository managed by Linus Torvalds. More
+ comments and/or problems may surface at this time; it is important that
+ the developer be responsive to these and fix any issues which arise.
+ - Stable release. The number of users potentially affected by the patch
+ is now large, so, once again, new problems may arise.
+ - Long-term maintenance. While it is certainly possible for a developer
+ to forget about code after merging it, that sort of behavior tends to
+ leave a poor impression in the development community. Merging code
+ eliminates some of the maintenance burden, in that others will fix
+ problems caused by API changes. But the original developer should
+ continue to take responsibility for the code if it is to remain useful
+ in the longer term.
+One of the largest mistakes made by kernel developers (or their employers)
+is to try to cut the process down to a single "merging into the mainline"
+step. This approach invariably leads to frustration for everybody
+2.3: HOW PATCHES GET INTO THE KERNEL
+There is exactly one person who can merge patches into the mainline kernel
+repository: Linus Torvalds. But, of the over 12,000 patches which went
+into the 2.6.25 kernel, only 250 (around 2%) were directly chosen by Linus
+himself. The kernel project has long since grown to a size where no single
+developer could possibly inspect and select every patch unassisted. The
+way the kernel developers have addressed this growth is through the use of
+a lieutenant system built around a chain of trust.
+The kernel code base is logically broken down into a set of subsystems:
+networking, specific architecture support, memory management, video
+devices, etc. Most subsystems have a designated maintainer, a developer
+who has overall responsibility for the code within that subsystem. These
+subsystem maintainers are the gatekeepers (in a loose way) for the portion
+of the kernel they manage; they are the ones who will (usually) accept a
+patch for inclusion into the mainline kernel.
+Subsystem maintainers each manage their own version of the kernel source
+tree, usually (but certainly not always) using the git source management
+tool. Tools like git (and related tools like quilt or mercurial) allow
+maintainers to track a list of patches, including authorship information
+and other metadata. At any given time, the maintainer can identify which
+patches in his or her repository are not found in the mainline.
+When the merge window opens, top-level maintainers will ask Linus to "pull"
+the patches they have selected for merging from their repositories. If
+Linus agrees, the stream of patches will flow up into his repository,
+becoming part of the mainline kernel. The amount of attention that Linus
+pays to specific patches received in a pull operation varies. It is clear
+that, sometimes, he looks quite closely. But, as a general rule, Linus
+trusts the subsystem maintainers to not send bad patches upstream.
+Subsystem maintainers, in turn, can pull patches from other maintainers.
+For example, the networking tree is built from patches which accumulated
+first in trees dedicated to network device drivers, wireless networking,
+etc. This chain of repositories can be arbitrarily long, though it rarely
+exceeds two or three links. Since each maintainer in the chain trusts
+those managing lower-level trees, this process is known as the "chain of
+Clearly, in a system like this, getting patches into the kernel depends on
+finding the right maintainer. Sending patches directly to Linus is not
+normally the right way to go.
+2.4: STAGING TREES
+The chain of subsystem trees guides the flow of patches into the kernel,
+but it also raises an interesting question: what if somebody wants to look
+at all of the patches which are being prepared for the next merge window?
+Developers will be interested in what other changes are pending to see
+whether there are any conflicts to worry about; a patch which changes a
+core kernel function prototype, for example, will conflict with any other
+patches which use the older form of that function. Reviewers and testers
+want access to the changes in their integrated form before all of those
+changes land in the mainline kernel. One could pull changes from all of
+the interesting subsystem trees, but that would be a big and error-prone
+The answer comes in the form of staging trees, where subsystem trees are
+collected for testing and review. The older of these trees, maintained by
+Andrew Morton, is called "-mm" (for memory management, which is how it got
+started). The -mm tree integrates patches from a long list of subsystem
+trees; it also has some patches aimed at helping with debugging.
+Beyond that, -mm contains a significant collection of patches which have
+been selected by Andrew directly. These patches may have been posted on a
+mailing list, or they may apply to a part of the kernel for which there is
+no designated subsystem tree. As a result, -mm operates as a sort of
+subsystem tree of last resort; if there is no other obvious path for a
+patch into the mainline, it is likely to end up in -mm. Miscellaneous
+patches which accumulate in -mm will eventually either be forwarded on to
+an appropriate subsystem tree or be sent directly to Linus. In a typical
+development cycle, approximately 10% of the patches going into the mainline
+get there via -mm.
+The current -mm patch can always be found from the front page of
+Those who want to see the current state of -mm can get the "-mm of the
+moment" tree, found at:
+Use of the MMOTM tree is likely to be a frustrating experience, though;
+there is a definite chance that it will not even compile.
+The other staging tree, started more recently, is linux-next, maintained by
+Stephen Rothwell. The linux-next tree is, by design, a snapshot of what
+the mainline is expected to look like after the next merge window closes.
+Linux-next trees are announced on the linux-kernel and linux-next mailing
+lists when they are assembled; they can be downloaded from:
+Some information about linux-next has been gathered at:
+How the linux-next tree will fit into the development process is still
+changing. As of this writing, the first full development cycle involving
+linux-next (2.6.26) is coming to an end; thus far, it has proved to be a
+valuable resource for finding and fixing integration problems before the
+beginning of the merge window. See http://lwn.net/Articles/287155/ for
+more information on how linux-next has worked to set up the 2.6.27 merge
+Some developers have begun to suggest that linux-next should be used as the
+target for future development as well. The linux-next tree does tend to be
+far ahead of the mainline and is more representative of the tree into which
+any new work will be merged. The downside to this idea is that the
+volatility of linux-next tends to make it a difficult development target.
+See http://lwn.net/Articles/289013/ for more information on this topic, and
+stay tuned; much is still in flux where linux-next is involved.
+As can be seen from the above text, the kernel development process depends
+heavily on the ability to herd collections of patches in various
+directions. The whole thing would not work anywhere near as well as it
+does without suitably powerful tools. Tutorials on how to use these tools
+are well beyond the scope of this document, but there is space for a few
+By far the dominant source code management system used by the kernel
+community is git. Git is one of a number of distributed version control
+systems being developed in the free software community. It is well tuned
+for kernel development, in that it performs quite well when dealing with
+large repositories and large numbers of patches. It also has a reputation
+for being difficult to learn and use, though it has gotten better over
+time. Some sort of familiarity with git is almost a requirement for kernel
+developers; even if they do not use it for their own work, they'll need git
+to keep up with what other developers (and the mainline) are doing.
+Git is now packaged by almost all Linux distributions. There is a home
+That page has pointers to documentation and tutorials. One should be
+aware, in particular, of the Kernel Hacker's Guide to git, which has
+information specific to kernel development:
+Among the kernel developers who do not use git, the most popular choice is
+almost certainly Mercurial:
+Mercurial shares many features with git, but it provides an interface which
+many find easier to use.
+The other tool worth knowing about is Quilt:
+Quilt is a patch management system, rather than a source code management
+system. It does not track history over time; it is, instead, oriented
+toward tracking a specific set of changes against an evolving code base.
+Some major subsystem maintainers use quilt to manage patches intended to go
+upstream. For the management of certain kinds of trees (-mm, for example),
+quilt is the best tool for the job.
+2.6: MAILING LISTS
+A great deal of Linux kernel development work is done by way of mailing
+lists. It is hard to be a fully-functioning member of the community
+without joining at least one list somewhere. But Linux mailing lists also
+represent a potential hazard to developers, who risk getting buried under a
+load of electronic mail, running afoul of the conventions used on the Linux
+lists, or both.
+Most kernel mailing lists are run on vger.kernel.org; the master list can
+be found at:
+There are lists hosted elsewhere, though; a number of them are at
+The core mailing list for kernel development is, of course, linux-kernel.
+This list is an intimidating place to be; volume can reach 500 messages per
+day, the amount of noise is high, the conversation can be severely
+technical, and participants are not always concerned with showing a high
+degree of politeness. But there is no other place where the kernel
+development community comes together as a whole; developers who avoid this
+list will miss important information.
+There are a few hints which can help with linux-kernel survival:
+- Have the list delivered to a separate folder, rather than your main
+ mailbox. One must be able to ignore the stream for sustained periods of
+- Do not try to follow every conversation - nobody else does. It is
+ important to filter on both the topic of interest (though note that
+ long-running conversations can drift away from the original subject
+ without changing the email subject line) and the people who are
+- Do not feed the trolls. If somebody is trying to stir up an angry
+ response, ignore them.
+- When responding to linux-kernel email (or that on other lists) preserve
+ the Cc: header for all involved. In the absence of a strong reason (such
+ as an explicit request), you should never remove recipients. Always make
+ sure that the person you are responding to is in the Cc: list. This
+ convention also makes it unnecessary to explicitly ask to be copied on
+ replies to your postings.
+- Search the list archives (and the net as a whole) before asking
+ questions. Some developers can get impatient with people who clearly
+ have not done their homework.
+- Avoid top-posting (the practice of putting your answer above the quoted
+ text you are responding to). It makes your response harder to read and
+ makes a poor impression.
+- Ask on the correct mailing list. Linux-kernel may be the general meeting
+ point, but it is not the best place to find developers from all
+The last point - finding the correct mailing list - is a common place for
+beginning developers to go wrong. Somebody who asks a networking-related
+question on linux-kernel will almost certainly receive a polite suggestion
+to ask on the netdev list instead, as that is the list frequented by most
+networking developers. Other lists exist for the SCSI, video4linux, IDE,
+filesystem, etc. subsystems. The best place to look for mailing lists is
+in the MAINTAINERS file packaged with the kernel source.
+2.7: GETTING STARTED WITH KERNEL DEVELOPMENT
+Questions about how to get started with the kernel development process are
+common - from both individuals and companies. Equally common are missteps
+which make the beginning of the relationship harder than it has to be.
+Companies often look to hire well-known developers to get a development
+group started. This can, in fact, be an effective technique. But it also
+tends to be expensive and does not do much to grow the pool of experienced
+kernel developers. It is possible to bring in-house developers up to speed
+on Linux kernel development, given the investment of a bit of time. Taking
+this time can endow an employer with a group of developers who understand
+the kernel and the company both, and who can help to train others as well.
+Over the medium term, this is often the more profitable approach.
+Individual developers are often, understandably, at a loss for a place to
+start. Beginning with a large project can be intimidating; one often wants
+to test the waters with something smaller first. This is the point where
+some developers jump into the creation of patches fixing spelling errors or
+minor coding style issues. Unfortunately, such patches create a level of
+noise which is distracting for the development community as a whole, so,
+increasingly, they are looked down upon. New developers wishing to
+introduce themselves to the community will not get the sort of reception
+they wish for by these means.
+Andrew Morton gives this advice for aspiring kernel developers
+ The #1 project for all kernel beginners should surely be "make sure
+ that the kernel runs perfectly at all times on all machines which
+ you can lay your hands on". Usually the way to do this is to work
+ with others on getting things fixed up (this can require
+ persistence!) but that's fine - it's a part of kernel development.
+In the absence of obvious problems to fix, developers are advised to look
+at the current lists of regressions and open bugs in general. There is
+never any shortage of issues in need of fixing; by addressing these issues,
+developers will gain experience with the process while, at the same time,
+building respect with the rest of the development community.
diff --git a/Documentation/development-process/3.Early-stage b/Documentation/development-process/3.Early-stage
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+3: EARLY-STAGE PLANNING
+When contemplating a Linux kernel development project, it can be tempting
+to jump right in and start coding. As with any significant project,
+though, much of the groundwork for success is best laid before the first
+line of code is written. Some time spent in early planning and
+communication can save far more time later on.
+3.1: SPECIFYING THE PROBLEM
+Like any engineering project, a successful kernel enhancement starts with a
+clear description of the problem to be solved. In some cases, this step is
+easy: when a driver is needed for a specific piece of hardware, for
+example. In others, though, it is tempting to confuse the real problem
+with the proposed solution, and that can lead to difficulties.
+Consider an example: some years ago, developers working with Linux audio
+sought a way to run applications without dropouts or other artifacts caused
+by excessive latency in the system. The solution they arrived at was a
+kernel module intended to hook into the Linux Security Module (LSM)
+framework; this module could be configured to give specific applications
+access to the realtime scheduler. This module was implemented and sent to
+the linux-kernel mailing list, where it immediately ran into problems.
+To the audio developers, this security module was sufficient to solve their
+immediate problem. To the wider kernel community, though, it was seen as a
+misuse of the LSM framework (which is not intended to confer privileges
+onto processes which they would not otherwise have) and a risk to system
+stability. Their preferred solutions involved realtime scheduling access
+via the rlimit mechanism for the short term, and ongoing latency reduction
+work in the long term.
+The audio community, however, could not see past the particular solution
+they had implemented; they were unwilling to accept alternatives. The
+resulting disagreement left those developers feeling disillusioned with the
+entire kernel development process; one of them went back to an audio list
+and posted this:
+ There are a number of very good Linux kernel developers, but they
+ tend to get outshouted by a large crowd of arrogant fools. Trying
+ to communicate user requirements to these people is a waste of
+ time. They are much too "intelligent" to listen to lesser mortals.
+The reality of the situation was different; the kernel developers were far
+more concerned about system stability, long-term maintenance, and finding
+the right solution to the problem than they were with a specific module.
+The moral of the story is to focus on the problem - not a specific solution
+- and to discuss it with the development community before investing in the
+creation of a body of code.
+So, when contemplating a kernel development project, one should obtain
+answers to a short set of questions:
+ - What, exactly, is the problem which needs to be solved?
+ - Who are the users affected by this problem? Which use cases should the
+ solution address?
+ - How does the kernel fall short in addressing that problem now?
+Only then does it make sense to start considering possible solutions.
+3.2: EARLY DISCUSSION
+When planning a kernel development project, it makes great sense to hold
+discussions with the community before launching into implementation. Early
+communication can save time and trouble in a number of ways:
+ - It may well be that the problem is addressed by the kernel in ways which
+ you have not understood. The Linux kernel is large and has a number of
+ features and capabilities which are not immediately obvious. Not all
+ kernel capabilities are documented as well as one might like, and it is
+ easy to miss things. Your author has seen the posting of a complete
+ driver which duplicated an existing driver that the new author had been
+ unaware of. Code which reinvents existing wheels is not only wasteful;
+ it will also not be accepted into the mainline kernel.
+ - There may be elements of the proposed solution which will not be
+ acceptable for mainline merging. It is better to find out about
+ problems like this before writing the code.
+ - It's entirely possible that other developers have thought about the
+ problem; they may have ideas for a better solution, and may be willing
+ to help in the creation of that solution.
+Years of experience with the kernel development community have taught a
+clear lesson: kernel code which is designed and developed behind closed
+doors invariably has problems which are only revealed when the code is
+released into the community. Sometimes these problems are severe,
+requiring months or years of effort before the code can be brought up to
+the kernel community's standards. Some examples include:
+ - The Devicescape network stack was designed and implemented for
+ single-processor systems. It could not be merged into the mainline
+ until it was made suitable for multiprocessor systems. Retrofitting
+ locking and such into code is a difficult task; as a result, the merging
+ of this code (now called mac80211) was delayed for over a year.
+ - The Reiser4 filesystem included a number of capabilities which, in the
+ core kernel developers' opinion, should have been implemented in the
+ virtual filesystem layer instead. It also included features which could
+ not easily be implemented without exposing the system to user-caused
+ deadlocks. The late revelation of these problems - and refusal to
+ address some of them - has caused Reiser4 to stay out of the mainline
+ - The AppArmor security module made use of internal virtual filesystem
+ data structures in ways which were considered to be unsafe and
+ unreliable. This code has since been significantly reworked, but
+ remains outside of the mainline.
+In each of these cases, a great deal of pain and extra work could have been
+avoided with some early discussion with the kernel developers.
+3.3: WHO DO YOU TALK TO?
+When developers decide to take their plans public, the next question will
+be: where do we start? The answer is to find the right mailing list(s) and
+the right maintainer. For mailing lists, the best approach is to look in
+the MAINTAINERS file for a relevant place to post. If there is a suitable
+subsystem list, posting there is often preferable to posting on
+linux-kernel; you are more likely to reach developers with expertise in the
+relevant subsystem and the environment may be more supportive.
+Finding maintainers can be a bit harder. Again, the MAINTAINERS file is
+the place to start. That file tends to not always be up to date, though,
+and not all subsystems are represented there. The person listed in the
+MAINTAINERS file may, in fact, not be the person who is actually acting in
+that role currently. So, when there is doubt about who to contact, a
+useful trick is to use git (and "git log" in particular) to see who is
+currently active within the subsystem of interest. Look at who is writing
+patches, and who, if anybody, is attaching Signed-off-by lines to those
+patches. Those are the people who will be best placed to help with a new
+If all else fails, talking to Andrew Morton can be an effective way to
+track down a maintainer for a specific piece of code.
+3.4: WHEN TO POST?
+If possible, posting your plans during the early stages can only be
+helpful. Describe the problem being solved and any plans that have been
+made on how the implementation will be done. Any information you can
+provide can help the development community provide useful input on the
+One discouraging thing which can happen at this stage is not a hostile
+reaction, but, instead, little or no reaction at all. The sad truth of the
+matter is (1) kernel developers tend to be busy, (2) there is no shortage
+of people with grand plans and little code (or even prospect of code) to
+back them up, and (3) nobody is obligated to review or comment on ideas
+posted by others. If a request-for-comments posting yields little in the
+way of comments, do not assume that it means there is no interest in the
+project. Unfortunately, you also cannot assume that there are no problems
+with your idea. The best thing to do in this situation is to proceed,
+keeping the community informed as you go.
+3.5: GETTING OFFICIAL BUY-IN
+If your work is being done in a corporate environment - as most Linux
+kernel work is - you must, obviously, have permission from suitably
+empowered managers before you can post your company's plans or code to a
+public mailing list. The posting of code which has not been cleared for
+release under a GPL-compatible license can be especially problematic; the
+sooner that a company's management and legal staff can agree on the posting
+of a kernel development project, the better off everybody involved will be.
+Some readers may be thinking at this point that their kernel work is
+intended to support a product which does not yet have an officially
+acknowledged existence. Revealing their employer's plans on a public
+mailing list may not be a viable option. In cases like this, it is worth
+considering whether the secrecy is really necessary; there is often no real
+need to keep development plans behind closed doors.
+That said, there are also cases where a company legitimately cannot
+disclose its plans early in the development process. Companies with
+experienced kernel developers may choose to proceed in an open-loop manner
+on the assumption that they will be able to avoid serious integration
+problems later. For companies without that sort of in-house expertise, the
+best option is often to hire an outside developer to review the plans under
+a non-disclosure agreement. The Linux Foundation operates an NDA program
+designed to help with this sort of situation; more information can be found
+This kind of review is often enough to avoid serious problems later on
+without requiring public disclosure of the project.
diff --git a/Documentation/development-process/4.Coding b/Documentation/development-process/4.Coding
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+4: GETTING THE CODE RIGHT
+While there is much to be said for a solid and community-oriented design
+process, the proof of any kernel development project is in the resulting
+code. It is the code which will be examined by other developers and merged
+(or not) into the mainline tree. So it is the quality of this code which
+will determine the ultimate success of the project.
+This section will examine the coding process. We'll start with a look at a
+number of ways in which kernel developers can go wrong. Then the focus
+will shift toward doing things right and the tools which can help in that
+* Coding style
+The kernel has long had a standard coding style, described in
+Documentation/CodingStyle. For much of that time, the policies described
+in that file were taken as being, at most, advisory. As a result, there is
+a substantial amount of code in the kernel which does not meet the coding
+style guidelines. The presence of that code leads to two independent
+hazards for kernel developers.
+The first of these is to believe that the kernel coding standards do not
+matter and are not enforced. The truth of the matter is that adding new
+code to the kernel is very difficult if that code is not coded according to
+the standard; many developers will request that the code be reformatted
+before they will even review it. A code base as large as the kernel
+requires some uniformity of code to make it possible for developers to
+quickly understand any part of it. So there is no longer room for
+Occasionally, the kernel's coding style will run into conflict with an
+employer's mandated style. In such cases, the kernel's style will have to
+win before the code can be merged. Putting code into the kernel means
+giving up a degree of control in a number of ways - including control over
+how the code is formatted.
+The other trap is to assume that code which is already in the kernel is
+urgently in need of coding style fixes. Developers may start to generate
+reformatting patches as a way of gaining familiarity with the process, or
+as a way of getting their name into the kernel changelogs - or both. But
+pure coding style fixes are seen as noise by the development community;
+they tend to get a chilly reception. So this type of patch is best
+avoided. It is natural to fix the style of a piece of code while working
+on it for other reasons, but coding style changes should not be made for
+their own sake.
+The coding style document also should not be read as an absolute law which
+can never be transgressed. If there is a good reason to go against the
+style (a line which becomes far less readable if split to fit within the
+80-column limit, for example), just do it.
+* Abstraction layers
+Computer Science professors teach students to make extensive use of
+abstraction layers in the name of flexibility and information hiding.
+Certainly the kernel makes extensive use of abstraction; no project
+involving several million lines of code could do otherwise and survive.
+But experience has shown that excessive or premature abstraction can be
+just as harmful as premature optimization. Abstraction should be used to
+the level required and no further.
+At a simple level, consider a function which has an argument which is
+always passed as zero by all callers. One could retain that argument just
+in case somebody eventually needs to use the extra flexibility that it
+provides. By that time, though, chances are good that the code which
+implements this extra argument has been broken in some subtle way which was
+never noticed - because it has never been used. Or, when the need for
+extra flexibility arises, it does not do so in a way which matches the
+programmer's early expectation. Kernel developers will routinely submit
+patches to remove unused arguments; they should, in general, not be added
+in the first place.
+Abstraction layers which hide access to hardware - often to allow the bulk
+of a driver to be used with multiple operating systems - are especially
+frowned upon. Such layers obscure the code and may impose a performance
+penalty; they do not belong in the Linux kernel.
+On the other hand, if you find yourself copying significant amounts of code
+from another kernel subsystem, it is time to ask whether it would, in fact,
+make sense to pull out some of that code into a separate library or to
+implement that functionality at a higher level. There is no value in
+replicating the same code throughout the kernel.
+* #ifdef and preprocessor use in general
+The C preprocessor seems to present a powerful temptation to some C
+programmers, who see it as a way to efficiently encode a great deal of
+flexibility into a source file. But the preprocessor is not C, and heavy
+use of it results in code which is much harder for others to read and
+harder for the compiler to check for correctness. Heavy preprocessor use
+is almost always a sign of code which needs some cleanup work.
+Conditional compilation with #ifdef is, indeed, a powerful feature, and it
+is used within the kernel. But there is little desire to see code which is
+sprinkled liberally with #ifdef blocks. As a general rule, #ifdef use
+should be confined to header files whenever possible.
+Conditionally-compiled code can be confined to functions which, if the code
+is not to be present, simply become empty. The compiler will then quietly
+optimize out the call to the empty function. The result is far cleaner
+code which is easier to follow.
+C preprocessor macros present a number of hazards, including possible
+multiple evaluation of expressions with side effects and no type safety.
+If you are tempted to define a macro, consider creating an inline function
+instead. The code which results will be the same, but inline functions are
+easier to read, do not evaluate their arguments multiple times, and allow
+the compiler to perform type checking on the arguments and return value.
+* Inline functions
+Inline functions present a hazard of their own, though. Programmers can
+become enamored of the perceived efficiency inherent in avoiding a function
+call and fill a source file with inline functions. Those functions,
+however, can actually reduce performance. Since their code is replicated
+at each call site, they end up bloating the size of the compiled kernel.
+That, in turn, creates pressure on the processor's memory caches, which can
+slow execution dramatically. Inline functions, as a rule, should be quite
+small and relatively rare. The cost of a function call, after all, is not
+that high; the creation of large numbers of inline functions is a classic
+example of premature optimization.
+In general, kernel programmers ignore cache effects at their peril. The
+classic time/space tradeoff taught in beginning data structures classes
+often does not apply to contemporary hardware. Space *is* time, in that a
+larger program will run slower than one which is more compact.
+In May, 2006, the "Devicescape" networking stack was, with great
+fanfare, released under the GPL and made available for inclusion in the
+mainline kernel. This donation was welcome news; support for wireless
+networking in Linux was considered substandard at best, and the Devicescape
+stack offered the promise of fixing that situation. Yet, this code did not
+actually make it into the mainline until June, 2007 (2.6.22). What
+This code showed a number of signs of having been developed behind
+corporate doors. But one large problem in particular was that it was not
+designed to work on multiprocessor systems. Before this networking stack
+(now called mac80211) could be merged, a locking scheme needed to be
+retrofitted onto it.
+Once upon a time, Linux kernel code could be developed without thinking
+about the concurrency issues presented by multiprocessor systems. Now,
+however, this document is being written on a dual-core laptop. Even on
+single-processor systems, work being done to improve responsiveness will
+raise the level of concurrency within the kernel. The days when kernel
+code could be written without thinking about locking are long past.
+Any resource (data structures, hardware registers, etc.) which could be
+accessed concurrently by more than one thread must be protected by a lock.
+New code should be written with this requirement in mind; retrofitting
+locking after the fact is a rather more difficult task. Kernel developers
+should take the time to understand the available locking primitives well
+enough to pick the right tool for the job. Code which shows a lack of
+attention to concurrency will have a difficult path into the mainline.
+One final hazard worth mentioning is this: it can be tempting to make a
+change (which may bring big improvements) which causes something to break
+for existing users. This kind of change is called a "regression," and
+regressions have become most unwelcome in the mainline kernel. With few
+exceptions, changes which cause regressions will be backed out if the
+regression cannot be fixed in a timely manner. Far better to avoid the
+regression in the first place.
+It is often argued that a regression can be justified if it causes things
+to work for more people than it creates problems for. Why not make a
+change if it brings new functionality to ten systems for each one it
+breaks? The best answer to this question was expressed by Linus in July,
+ So we don't fix bugs by introducing new problems. That way lies
+ madness, and nobody ever knows if you actually make any real
+ progress at all. Is it two steps forwards, one step back, or one
+ step forward and two steps back?
+An especially unwelcome type of regression is any sort of change to the
+user-space ABI. Once an interface has been exported to user space, it must
+be supported indefinitely. This fact makes the creation of user-space
+interfaces particularly challenging: since they cannot be changed in
+incompatible ways, they must be done right the first time. For this
+reason, a great deal of thought, clear documentation, and wide review for
+user-space interfaces is always required.
+4.2: CODE CHECKING TOOLS
+For now, at least, the writing of error-free code remains an ideal that few
+of us can reach. What we can hope to do, though, is to catch and fix as
+many of those errors as possible before our code goes into the mainline
+kernel. To that end, the kernel developers have put together an impressive
+array of tools which can catch a wide variety of obscure problems in an
+automated way. Any problem caught by the computer is a problem which will
+not afflict a user later on, so it stands to reason that the automated
+tools should be used whenever possible.
+The first step is simply to heed the warnings produced by the compiler.
+Contemporary versions of gcc can detect (and warn about) a large number of
+potential errors. Quite often, these warnings point to real problems.
+Code submitted for review should, as a rule, not produce any compiler
+warnings. When silencing warnings, take care to understand the real cause
+and try to avoid "fixes" which make the warning go away without addressing
+Note that not all compiler warnings are enabled by default. Build the
+kernel with "make EXTRA_CFLAGS=-W" to get the full set.
+The kernel provides several configuration options which turn on debugging
+features; most of these are found in the "kernel hacking" submenu. Several
+of these options should be turned on for any kernel used for development or
+testing purposes. In particular, you should turn on:
+ - ENABLE_WARN_DEPRECATED, ENABLE_MUST_CHECK, and FRAME_WARN to get an
+ extra set of warnings for problems like the use of deprecated interfaces
+ or ignoring an important return value from a function. The output
+ generated by these warnings can be verbose, but one need not worry about
+ warnings from other parts of the kernel.
+ - DEBUG_OBJECTS will add code to track the lifetime of various objects
+ created by the kernel and warn when things are done out of order. If
+ you are adding a subsystem which creates (and exports) complex objects
+ of its own, consider adding support for the object debugging
+ - DEBUG_SLAB can find a variety of memory allocation and use errors; it
+ should be used on most development kernels.
+ - DEBUG_SPINLOCK, DEBUG_SPINLOCK_SLEEP, and DEBUG_MUTEXES will find a
+ number of common locking errors.
+There are quite a few other debugging options, some of which will be
+discussed below. Some of them have a significant performance impact and
+should not be used all of the time. But some time spent learning the
+available options will likely be paid back many times over in short order.
+One of the heavier debugging tools is the locking checker, or "lockdep."
+This tool will track the acquisition and release of every lock (spinlock or
+mutex) in the system, the order in which locks are acquired relative to
+each other, the current interrupt environment, and more. It can then
+ensure that locks are always acquired in the same order, that the same
+interrupt assumptions apply in all situations, and so on. In other words,
+lockdep can find a number of scenarios in which the system could, on rare
+occasion, deadlock. This kind of problem can be painful (for both
+developers and users) in a deployed system; lockdep allows them to be found
+in an automated manner ahead of time. Code with any sort of non-trivial
+locking should be run with lockdep enabled before being submitted for
+As a diligent kernel programmer, you will, beyond doubt, check the return
+status of any operation (such as a memory allocation) which can fail. The
+fact of the matter, though, is that the resulting failure recovery paths
+are, probably, completely untested. Untested code tends to be broken code;
+you could be much more confident of your code if all those error-handling
+paths had been exercised a few times.
+The kernel provides a fault injection framework which can do exactly that,
+especially where memory allocations are involved. With fault injection
+enabled, a configurable percentage of memory allocations will be made to
+fail; these failures can be restricted to a specific range of code.
+Running with fault injection enabled allows the programmer to see how the
+code responds when things go badly. See
+Documentation/fault-injection/fault-injection.text for more information on
+how to use this facility.
+Other kinds of errors can be found with the "sparse" static analysis tool.
+With sparse, the programmer can be warned about confusion between
+user-space and kernel-space addresses, mixture of big-endian and
+small-endian quantities, the passing of integer values where a set of bit
+flags is expected, and so on. Sparse must be installed separately (it can
+be found at http://www.kernel.org/pub/software/devel/sparse/ if your
+distributor does not package it); it can then be run on the code by adding
+"C=1" to your make command.
+Other kinds of portability errors are best found by compiling your code for
+other architectures. If you do not happen to have an S/390 system or a
+Blackfin development board handy, you can still perform the compilation
+step. A large set of cross compilers for x86 systems can be found at
+Some time spent installing and using these compilers will help avoid
+Documentation has often been more the exception than the rule with kernel
+development. Even so, adequate documentation will help to ease the merging
+of new code into the kernel, make life easier for other developers, and
+will be helpful for your users. In many cases, the addition of
+documentation has become essentially mandatory.
+The first piece of documentation for any patch is its associated
+changelog. Log entries should describe the problem being solved, the form
+of the solution, the people who worked on the patch, any relevant
+effects on performance, and anything else that might be needed to
+understand the patch.
+Any code which adds a new user-space interface - including new sysfs or
+/proc files - should include documentation of that interface which enables
+user-space developers to know what they are working with. See
+Documentation/ABI/README for a description of how this documentation should
+be formatted and what information needs to be provided.
+The file Documentation/kernel-parameters.txt describes all of the kernel's
+boot-time parameters. Any patch which adds new parameters should add the
+appropriate entries to this file.
+Any new configuration options must be accompanied by help text which
+clearly explains the options and when the user might want to select them.
+Internal API information for many subsystems is documented by way of
+specially-formatted comments; these comments can be extracted and formatted
+in a number of ways by the "kernel-doc" script. If you are working within
+a subsystem which has kerneldoc comments, you should maintain them and add
+them, as appropriate, for externally-available functions. Even in areas
+which have not been so documented, there is no harm in adding kerneldoc
+comments for the future; indeed, this can be a useful activity for
+beginning kernel developers. The format of these comments, along with some
+information on how to create kerneldoc templates can be found in the file
+Anybody who reads through a significant amount of existing kernel code will
+note that, often, comments are most notable by their absence. Once again,
+the expectations for new code are higher than they were in the past;
+merging uncommented code will be harder. That said, there is little desire
+for verbosely-commented code. The code should, itself, be readable, with
+comments explaining the more subtle aspects.
+Certain things should always be commented. Uses of memory barriers should
+be accompanied by a line explaining why the barrier is necessary. The
+locking rules for data structures generally need to be explained somewhere.
+Major data structures need comprehensive documentation in general.
+Non-obvious dependencies between separate bits of code should be pointed
+out. Anything which might tempt a code janitor to make an incorrect
+"cleanup" needs a comment saying why it is done the way it is. And so on.
+4.4: INTERNAL API CHANGES
+The binary interface provided by the kernel to user space cannot be broken
+except under the most severe circumstances. The kernel's internal
+programming interfaces, instead, are highly fluid and can be changed when
+the need arises. If you find yourself having to work around a kernel API,
+or simply not using a specific functionality because it does not meet your
+needs, that may be a sign that the API needs to change. As a kernel
+developer, you are empowered to make such changes.
+There are, of course, some catches. API changes can be made, but they need
+to be well justified. So any patch making an internal API change should be
+accompanied by a description of what the change is and why it is
+necessary. This kind of change should also be broken out into a separate
+patch, rather than buried within a larger patch.
+The other catch is that a developer who changes an internal API is
+generally charged with the task of fixing any code within the kernel tree
+which is broken by the change. For a widely-used function, this duty can
+lead to literally hundreds or thousands of changes - many of which are
+likely to conflict with work being done by other developers. Needless to
+say, this can be a large job, so it is best to be sure that the
+justification is solid.
+When making an incompatible API change, one should, whenever possible,
+ensure that code which has not been updated is caught by the compiler.
+This will help you to be sure that you have found all in-tree uses of that
+interface. It will also alert developers of out-of-tree code that there is
+a change that they need to respond to. Supporting out-of-tree code is not
+something that kernel developers need to be worried about, but we also do
+not have to make life harder for out-of-tree developers than it it needs to
diff --git a/Documentation/development-process/5.Posting b/Documentation/development-process/5.Posting
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+5: POSTING PATCHES
+Sooner or later, the time comes when your work is ready to be presented to
+the community for review and, eventually, inclusion into the mainline
+kernel. Unsurprisingly, the kernel development community has evolved a set
+of conventions and procedures which are used in the posting of patches;
+following them will make life much easier for everybody involved. This
+document will attempt to cover these expectations in reasonable detail;
+more information can also be found in the files SubmittingPatches,
+SubmittingDrivers, and SubmitChecklist in the kernel documentation
+5.1: WHEN TO POST
+There is a constant temptation to avoid posting patches before they are
+completely "ready." For simple patches, that is not a problem. If the
+work being done is complex, though, there is a lot to be gained by getting
+feedback from the community before the work is complete. So you should
+consider posting in-progress work, or even making a git tree available so
+that interested developers can catch up with your work at any time.
+When posting code which is not yet considered ready for inclusion, it is a
+good idea to say so in the posting itself. Also mention any major work
+which remains to be done and any known problems. Fewer people will look at
+patches which are known to be half-baked, but those who do will come in
+with the idea that they can help you drive the work in the right direction.
+5.2: BEFORE CREATING PATCHES
+There are a number of things which should be done before you consider
+sending patches to the development community. These include:
+ - Test the code to the extent that you can. Make use of the kernel's
+ debugging tools, ensure that the kernel will build with all reasonable
+ combinations of configuration options, use cross-compilers to build for
+ different architectures, etc.
+ - Make sure your code is compliant with the kernel coding style
+ - Does your change have performance implications? If so, you should run
+ benchmarks showing what the impact (or benefit) of your change is; a
+ summary of the results should be included with the patch.
+ - Be sure that you have the right to post the code. If this work was done
+ for an employer, the employer likely has a right to the work and must be
+ agreeable with its release under the GPL.
+As a general rule, putting in some extra thought before posting code almost
+always pays back the effort in short order.
+5.3: PATCH PREPARATION
+The preparation of patches for posting can be a surprising amount of work,
+but, once again, attempting to save time here is not generally advisable
+even in the short term.
+Patches must be prepared against a specific version of the kernel. As a
+general rule, a patch should be based on the current mainline as found in
+Linus's git tree. It may become necessary to make versions against -mm,
+linux-next, or a subsystem tree, though, to facilitate wider testing and
+review. Depending on the area of your patch and what is going on
+elsewhere, basing a patch against these other trees can require a
+significant amount of work resolving conflicts and dealing with API
+Only the most simple changes should be formatted as a single patch;
+everything else should be made as a logical series of changes. Splitting
+up patches is a bit of an art; some developers spend a long time figuring
+out how to do it in the way that the community expects. There are a few
+rules of thumb, however, which can help considerably:
+ - The patch series you post will almost certainly not be the series of
+ changes found in your working revision control system. Instead, the
+ changes you have made need to be considered in their final form, then
+ split apart in ways which make sense. The developers are interested in
+ discrete, self-contained changes, not the path you took to get to those
+ - Each logically independent change should be formatted as a separate
+ patch. These changes can be small ("add a field to this structure") or
+ large (adding a significant new driver, for example), but they should be
+ conceptually small and amenable to a one-line description. Each patch
+ should make a specific change which can be reviewed on its own and
+ verified to do what it says it does.
+ - As a way of restating the guideline above: do not mix different types of
+ changes in the same patch. If a single patch fixes a critical security
+ bug, rearranges a few structures, and reformats the code, there is a
+ good chance that it will be passed over and the important fix will be
+ - Each patch should yield a kernel which builds and runs properly; if your
+ patch series is interrupted in the middle, the result should still be a
+ working kernel. Partial application of a patch series is a common
+ scenario when the "git bisect" tool is used to find regressions; if the
+ result is a broken kernel, you will make life harder for developers and
+ users who are engaging in the noble work of tracking down problems.
+ - Do not overdo it, though. One developer recently posted a set of edits
+ to a single file as 500 separate patches - an act which did not make him
+ the most popular person on the kernel mailing list. A single patch can
+ be reasonably large as long as it still contains a single *logical*
+ - It can be tempting to add a whole new infrastructure with a series of
+ patches, but to leave that infrastructure unused until the final patch
+ in the series enables the whole thing. This temptation should be
+ avoided if possible; if that series adds regressions, bisection will
+ finger the last patch as the one which caused the problem, even though
+ the real bug is elsewhere. Whenever possible, a patch which adds new
+ code should make that code active immediately.
+Working to create the perfect patch series can be a frustrating process
+which takes quite a bit of time and thought after the "real work" has been
+done. When done properly, though, it is time well spent.
+5.4: PATCH FORMATTING
+So now you have a perfect series of patches for posting, but the work is
+not done quite yet. Each patch needs to be formatted into a message which
+quickly and clearly communicates its purpose to the rest of the world. To
+that end, each patch will be composed of the following:
+ - An optional "From" line naming the author of the patch. This line is
+ only necessary if you are passing on somebody else's patch via email,
+ but it never hurts to add it when in doubt.
+ - A one-line description of what the patch does. This message should be
+ enough for a reader who sees it with no other context to figure out the
+ scope of the patch; it is the line that will show up in the "short form"
+ changelogs. This message is usually formatted with the relevant
+ subsystem name first, followed by the purpose of the patch. For
+ gpio: fix build on CONFIG_GPIO_SYSFS=n
+ - A blank line followed by a detailed description of the contents of the
+ patch. This description can be as long as is required; it should say
+ what the patch does and why it should be applied to the kernel.
+ - One or more tag lines, with, at a minimum, one Signed-off-by: line from
+ the author of the patch. Tags will be described in more detail below.
+The above three items should, normally, be the text used when committing
+the change to a revision control system. They are followed by:
+ - The patch itself, in the unified ("-u") patch format. Using the "-p"
+ option to diff will associate function names with changes, making the
+ resulting patch easier for others to read.
+You should avoid including changes to irrelevant files (those generated by
+the build process, for example, or editor backup files) in the patch. The
+file "dontdiff" in the Documentation directory can help in this regard;
+pass it to diff with the "-X" option.
+The tags mentioned above are used to describe how various developers have
+been associated with the development of this patch. They are described in
+detail in the SubmittingPatches document; what follows here is a brief
+summary. Each of these lines has the format:
+ tag: Full Name <email address> optional-other-stuff
+The tags in common use are:
+ - Signed-off-by: this is a developer's certification that he or she has
+ the right to submit the patch for inclusion into the kernel. It is an
+ agreement to the Developer's Certificate of Origin, the full text of
+ which can be found in Documentation/SubmittingPatches. Code without a
+ proper signoff cannot be merged into the mainline.
+ - Acked-by: indicates an agreement by another developer (often a
+ maintainer of the relevant code) that the patch is appropriate for
+ inclusion into the kernel.
+ - Tested-by: states that the named person has tested the patch and found
+ it to work.
+ - Reviewed-by: the named developer has reviewed the patch for correctness;
+ see the reviewer's statement in Documentation/SubmittingPatches for more
+ - Reported-by: names a user who reported a problem which is fixed by this
+ patch; this tag is used to give credit to the (often underappreciated)
+ people who test our code and let us know when things do not work
+ - Cc: the named person received a copy of the patch and had the
+ opportunity to comment on it.
+Be careful in the addition of tags to your patches: only Cc: is appropriate
+for addition without the explicit permission of the person named.
+5.5: SENDING THE PATCH
+Before you mail your patches, there are a couple of other things you should
+take care of:
+ - Are you sure that your mailer will not corrupt the patches? Patches
+ which have had gratuitous white-space changes or line wrapping performed
+ by the mail client will not apply at the other end, and often will not
+ be examined in any detail. If there is any doubt at all, mail the patch
+ to yourself and convince yourself that it shows up intact.
+ Documentation/email-clients.txt has some helpful hints on making
+ specific mail clients work for sending patches.
+ - Are you sure your patch is free of silly mistakes? You should always
+ run patches through scripts/checkpatch.pl and address the complaints it
+ comes up with. Please bear in mind that checkpatch.pl, while being the
+ embodiment of a fair amount of thought about what kernel patches should
+ look like, is not smarter than you. If fixing a checkpatch.pl complaint
+ would make the code worse, don't do it.
+Patches should always be sent as plain text. Please do not send them as
+attachments; that makes it much harder for reviewers to quote sections of
+the patch in their replies. Instead, just put the patch directly into your
+When mailing patches, it is important to send copies to anybody who might
+be interested in it. Unlike some other projects, the kernel encourages
+people to err on the side of sending too many copies; don't assume that the
+relevant people will see your posting on the mailing lists. In particular,
+copies should go to:
+ - The maintainer(s) of the affected subsystem(s). As described earlier,
+ the MAINTAINERS file is the first place to look for these people.
+ - Other developers who have been working in the same area - especially
+ those who might be working there now. Using git to see who else has
+ modified the files you are working on can be helpful.
+ - If you are responding to a bug report or a feature request, copy the
+ original poster as well.
+ - Send a copy to the relevant mailing list, or, if nothing else applies,
+ the linux-kernel list.
+ - If you are fixing a bug, think about whether the fix should go into the
+ next stable update. If so, firstname.lastname@example.org should get a copy of the
+ patch. Also add a "Cc: email@example.com" to the tags within the patch
+ itself; that will cause the stable team to get a notification when your
+ fix goes into the mainline.
+When selecting recipients for a patch, it is good to have an idea of who
+you think will eventually accept the patch and get it merged. While it
+is possible to send patches directly to Linus Torvalds and have him merge
+them, things are not normally done that way. Linus is busy, and there are
+subsystem maintainers who watch over specific parts of the kernel. Usually
+you will be wanting that maintainer to merge your patches. If there is no
+obvious maintainer, Andrew Morton is often the patch target of last resort.
+Patches need good subject lines. The canonical format for a patch line is
+ [PATCH nn/mm] subsys: one-line description of the patch
+where "nn" is the ordinal number of the patch, "mm" is the total number of
+patches in the series, and "subsys" is the name of the affected subsystem.
+Clearly, nn/mm can be omitted for a single, standalone patch.
+If you have a significant series of patches, it is customary to send an
+introductory description as part zero. This convention is not universally
+followed though; if you use it, remember that information in the
+introduction does not make it into the kernel changelogs. So please ensure
+that the patches, themselves, have complete changelog information.
+In general, the second and following parts of a multi-part patch should be
+sent as a reply to the first part so that they all thread together at the
+receiving end. Tools like git and quilt have commands to mail out a set of
+patches with the proper threading. If you have a long series, though, and
+are using git, please provide the --no-chain-reply-to option to avoid
+creating exceptionally deep nesting.
diff --git a/Documentation/development-process/6.Followthrough b/Documentation/development-process/6.Followthrough
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+At this point, you have followed the guidelines given so far and, with the
+addition of your own engineering skills, have posted a perfect series of
+patches. One of the biggest mistakes that even experienced kernel
+developers can make is to conclude that their work is now done. In truth,
+posting patches indicates a transition into the next stage of the process,
+with, possibly, quite a bit of work yet to be done.
+It is a rare patch which is so good at its first posting that there is no
+room for improvement. The kernel development process recognizes this fact,
+and, as a result, is heavily oriented toward the improvement of posted
+code. You, as the author of that code, will be expected to work with the
+kernel community to ensure that your code is up to the kernel's quality
+standards. A failure to participate in this process is quite likely to
+prevent the inclusion of your patches into the mainline.
+6.1: WORKING WITH REVIEWERS
+A patch of any significance will result in a number of comments from other
+developers as they review the code. Working with reviewers can be, for
+many developers, the most intimidating part of the kernel development
+process. Life can be made much easier, though, if you keep a few things in
+ - If you have explained your patch well, reviewers will understand its
+ value and why you went to the trouble of writing it. But that value
+ will not keep them from asking a fundamental question: what will it be
+ like to maintain a kernel with this code in it five or ten years later?
+ Many of the changes you may be asked to make - from coding style tweaks
+ to substantial rewrites - come from the understanding that Linux will
+ still be around and under development a decade from now.
+ - Code review is hard work, and it is a relatively thankless occupation;
+ people remember who wrote kernel code, but there is little lasting fame
+ for those who reviewed it. So reviewers can get grumpy, especially when
+ they see the same mistakes being made over and over again. If you get a
+ review which seems angry, insulting, or outright offensive, resist the
+ impulse to respond in kind. Code review is about the code, not about
+ the people, and code reviewers are not attacking you personally.
+ - Similarly, code reviewers are not trying to promote their employers'
+ agendas at the expense of your own. Kernel developers often expect to
+ be working on the kernel years from now, but they understand that their
+ employer could change. They truly are, almost without exception,
+ working toward the creation of the best kernel they can; they are not
+ trying to create discomfort for their employers' competitors.
+What all of this comes down to is that, when reviewers send you comments,
+you need to pay attention to the technical observations that they are
+making. Do not let their form of expression or your own pride keep that
+from happening. When you get review comments on a patch, take the time to
+understand what the reviewer is trying to say. If possible, fix the things
+that the reviewer is asking you to fix. And respond back to the reviewer:
+thank them, and describe how you will answer their questions.
+Note that you do not have to agree with every change suggested by
+reviewers. If you believe that the reviewer has misunderstood your code,
+explain what is really going on. If you have a technical objection to a
+suggested change, describe it and justify your solution to the problem. If
+your explanations make sense, the reviewer will accept them. Should your
+explanation not prove persuasive, though, especially if others start to
+agree with the reviewer, take some time to think things over again. It can
+be easy to become blinded by your own solution to a problem to the point
+that you don't realize that something is fundamentally wrong or, perhaps,
+you're not even solving the right problem.
+One fatal mistake is to ignore review comments in the hope that they will
+go away. They will not go away. If you repost code without having
+responded to the comments you got the time before, you're likely to find
+that your patches go nowhere.
+Speaking of reposting code: please bear in mind that reviewers are not
+going to remember all the details of the code you posted the last time
+around. So it is always a good idea to remind reviewers of previously
+raised issues and how you dealt with them; the patch changelog is a good
+place for this kind of information. Reviewers should not have to search
+through list archives to familiarize themselves with what was said last
+time; if you help them get a running start, they will be in a better mood
+when they revisit your code.
+What if you've tried to do everything right and things still aren't going
+anywhere? Most technical disagreements can be resolved through discussion,
+but there are times when somebody simply has to make a decision. If you
+honestly believe that this decision is going against you wrongly, you can
+always try appealing to a higher power. As of this writing, that higher
+power tends to be Andrew Morton. Andrew has a great deal of respect in the
+kernel development community; he can often unjam a situation which seems to
+be hopelessly blocked. Appealing to Andrew should not be done lightly,
+though, and not before all other alternatives have been explored. And bear
+in mind, of course, that he may not agree with you either.
+6.2: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
+If a patch is considered to be a good thing to add to the kernel, and once
+most of the review issues have been resolved, the next step is usually
+entry into a subsystem maintainer's tree. How that works varies from one
+subsystem to the next; each maintainer has his or her own way of doing
+things. In particular, there may be more than one tree - one, perhaps,
+dedicated to patches planned for the next merge window, and another for
+For patches applying to areas for which there is no obvious subsystem tree
+(memory management patches, for example), the default tree often ends up
+being -mm. Patches which affect multiple subsystems can also end up going
+through the -mm tree.
+Inclusion into a subsystem tree can bring a higher level of visibility to a
+patch. Now other developers working with that tree will get the patch by
+default. Subsystem trees typically feed into -mm and linux-next as well,
+making their contents visible to the development community as a whole. At
+this point, there's a good chance that you will get more comments from a
+new set of reviewers; these comments need to be answered as in the previous
+What may also happen at this point, depending on the nature of your patch,
+is that conflicts with work being done by others turn up. In the worst
+case, heavy patch conflicts can result in some work being put on the back
+burner so that the remaining patches can be worked into shape and merged.
+Other times, conflict resolution will involve working with the other
+developers and, possibly, moving some patches between trees to ensure that
+everything applies cleanly. This work can be a pain, but count your
+blessings: before the advent of the linux-next tree, these conflicts often
+only turned up during the merge window and had to be addressed in a hurry.
+Now they can be resolved at leisure, before the merge window opens.
+Some day, if all goes well, you'll log on and see that your patch has been
+merged into the mainline kernel. Congratulations! Once the celebration is
+complete (and you have added yourself to the MAINTAINERS file), though, it
+is worth remembering an important little fact: the job still is not done.
+Merging into the mainline brings its own challenges.
+To begin with, the visibility of your patch has increased yet again. There
+may be a new round of comments from developers who had not been aware of
+the patch before. It may be tempting to ignore them, since there is no
+longer any question of your code being merged. Resist that temptation,
+though; you still need to be responsive to developers who have questions or
+More importantly, though: inclusion into the mainline puts your code into
+the hands of a much larger group of testers. Even if you have contributed
+a driver for hardware which is not yet available, you will be surprised by
+how many people will build your code into their kernels. And, of course,
+where there are testers, there will be bug reports.
+The worst sort of bug reports are regressions. If your patch causes a
+regression, you'll find an uncomfortable number of eyes upon you;
+regressions need to be fixed as soon as possible. If you are unwilling or
+unable to fix the regression (and nobody else does it for you), your patch
+will almost certainly be removed during the stabilization period. Beyond
+negating all of the work you have done to get your patch into the mainline,
+having a patch pulled as the result of a failure to fix a regression could
+well make it harder for you to get work merged in the future.
+After any regressions have been dealt with, there may be other, ordinary
+bugs to deal with. The stabilization period is your best opportunity to
+fix these bugs and ensure that your code's debut in a mainline kernel
+release is as solid as possible. So, please, answer bug reports, and fix
+the problems if at all possible. That's what the stabilization period is
+for; you can start creating cool new patches once any problems with the old
+ones have been taken care of.
+And don't forget that there are other milestones which may also create bug
+reports: the next mainline stable release, when prominent distributors pick
+up a version of the kernel containing your patch, etc. Continuing to
+respond to these reports is a matter of basic pride in your work. If that
+is insufficient motivation, though, it's also worth considering that the
+development community remembers developers who lose interest in their code
+after it's merged. The next time you post a patch, they will be evaluating
+it with the assumption that you will not be around to maintain it
+6.3: OTHER THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN
+One day, you may open your mail client and see that somebody has mailed you
+a patch to your code. That is one of the advantages of having your code
+out there in the open, after all. If you agree with the patch, you can
+either forward it on to the subsystem maintainer (be sure to include a
+proper From: line so that the attribution is correct, and add a signoff of
+your own), or send an Acked-by: response back and let the original poster
+send it upward.
+If you disagree with the patch, send a polite response explaining why. If
+possible, tell the author what changes need to be made to make the patch
+acceptable to you. There is a certain resistance to merging patches which
+are opposed by the author and maintainer of the code, but it only goes so
+far. If you are seen as needlessly blocking good work, those patches will
+eventually flow around you and get into the mainline anyway. In the Linux
+kernel, nobody has absolute veto power over any code. Except maybe Linus.
+On very rare occasion, you may see something completely different: another
+developer posts a different solution to your problem. At that point,
+chances are that one of the two patches will not be merged, and "mine was
+here first" is not considered to be a compelling technical argument. If
+somebody else's patch displaces yours and gets into the mainline, there is
+really only one way to respond: be pleased that your problem got solved and
+get on with your work. Having one's work shoved aside in this manner can
+be hurtful and discouraging, but the community will remember your reaction
+long after they have forgotten whose patch actually got merged.
diff --git a/Documentation/development-process/7.AdvancedTopics b/Documentation/development-process/7.AdvancedTopics
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+7: ADVANCED TOPICS
+At this point, hopefully, you have a handle on how the development process
+works. There is still more to learn, however! This section will cover a
+number of topics which can be helpful for developers wanting to become a
+regular part of the Linux kernel development process.
+7.1: MANAGING PATCHES WITH GIT
+The use of distributed version control for the kernel began in early 2002,
+when Linus first started playing with the proprietary BitKeeper
+application. While BitKeeper was controversial, the approach to software
+version management it embodied most certainly was not. Distributed version
+control enabled an immediate acceleration of the kernel development
+project. In current times, there are several free alternatives to
+BitKeeper. For better or for worse, the kernel project has settled on git
+as its tool of choice.
+Managing patches with git can make life much easier for the developer,
+especially as the volume of those patches grows. Git also has its rough
+edges and poses certain hazards; it is a young and powerful tool which is
+still being civilized by its developers. This document will not attempt to
+teach the reader how to use git; that would be sufficient material for a
+long document in its own right. Instead, the focus here will be on how git
+fits into the kernel development process in particular. Developers who
+wish to come up to speed with git will find more information at:
+and on various tutorials found on the web.
+The first order of business is to read the above sites and get a solid
+understanding of how git works before trying to use it to make patches
+available to others. A git-using developer should be able to obtain a copy
+of the mainline repository, explore the revision history, commit changes to
+the tree, use branches, etc. An understanding of git's tools for the
+rewriting of history (such as rebase) is also useful. Git comes with its
+own terminology and concepts; a new user of git should know about refs,
+remote branches, the index, fast-forward merges, pushes and pulls, detached
+heads, etc. It can all be a little intimidating at the outset, but the
+concepts are not that hard to grasp with a bit of study.
+Using git to generate patches for submission by email can be a good
+exercise while coming up to speed.
+When you are ready to start putting up git trees for others to look at, you
+will, of course, need a server that can be pulled from. Setting up such a
+server with git-daemon is relatively straightforward if you have a system
+which is accessible to the Internet. Otherwise, free, public hosting sites
+(Github, for example) are starting to appear on the net. Established
+developers can get an account on kernel.org, but those are not easy to come
+by; see http://kernel.org/faq/ for more information.
+The normal git workflow involves the use of a lot of branches. Each line
+of development can be separated into a separate "topic branch" and
+maintained independently. Branches in git are cheap, there is no reason to
+not make free use of them. And, in any case, you should not do your
+development in any branch which you intend to ask others to pull from.
+Publicly-available branches should be created with care; merge in patches
+from development branches when they are in complete form and ready to go -
+Git provides some powerful tools which can allow you to rewrite your
+development history. An inconvenient patch (one which breaks bisection,
+say, or which has some other sort of obvious bug) can be fixed in place or
+made to disappear from the history entirely. A patch series can be
+rewritten as if it had been written on top of today's mainline, even though
+you have been working on it for months. Changes can be transparently
+shifted from one branch to another. And so on. Judicious use of git's
+ability to revise history can help in the creation of clean patch sets with
+Excessive use of this capability can lead to other problems, though, beyond
+a simple obsession for the creation of the perfect project history.
+Rewriting history will rewrite the changes contained in that history,
+turning a tested (hopefully) kernel tree into an untested one. But, beyond
+that, developers cannot easily collaborate if they do not have a shared
+view of the project history; if you rewrite history which other developers
+have pulled into their repositories, you will make life much more difficult
+for those developers. So a simple rule of thumb applies here: history
+which has been exported to others should generally be seen as immutable
+So, once you push a set of changes to your publicly-available server, those
+changes should not be rewritten. Git will attempt to enforce this rule if
+you try to push changes which do not result in a fast-forward merge
+(i.e. changes which do not share the same history). It is possible to
+override this check, and there may be times when it is necessary to rewrite
+an exported tree. Moving changesets between trees to avoid conflicts in
+linux-next is one example. But such actions should be rare. This is one
+of the reasons why development should be done in private branches (which
+can be rewritten if necessary) and only moved into public branches when
+it's in a reasonably advanced state.
+As the mainline (or other tree upon which a set of changes is based)
+advances, it is tempting to merge with that tree to stay on the leading
+edge. For a private branch, rebasing can be an easy way to keep up with
+another tree, but rebasing is not an option once a tree is exported to the
+world. Once that happens, a full merge must be done. Merging occasionally
+makes good sense, but overly frequent merges can clutter the history
+needlessly. Suggested technique in this case is to merge infrequently, and
+generally only at specific release points (such as a mainline -rc
+release). If you are nervous about specific changes, you can always
+perform test merges in a private branch. The git "rerere" tool can be
+useful in such situations; it remembers how merge conflicts were resolved
+so that you don't have to do the same work twice.
+One of the biggest recurring complaints about tools like git is this: the
+mass movement of patches from one repository to another makes it easy to
+slip in ill-advised changes which go into the mainline below the review
+radar. Kernel developers tend to get unhappy when they see that kind of
+thing happening; putting up a git tree with unreviewed or off-topic patches
+can affect your ability to get trees pulled in the future. Quoting Linus:
+ You can send me patches, but for me to pull a git patch from you, I
+ need to know that you know what you're doing, and I need to be able
+ to trust things *without* then having to go and check every
+ individual change by hand.
+To avoid this kind of situation, ensure that all patches within a given
+branch stick closely to the associated topic; a "driver fixes" branch
+should not be making changes to the core memory management code. And, most
+importantly, do not use a git tree to bypass the review process. Post an
+occasional summary of the tree to the relevant list, and, when the time is
+right, request that the tree be included in linux-next.
+If and when others start to send patches for inclusion into your tree,
+don't forget to review them. Also ensure that you maintain the correct
+authorship information; the git "am" tool does its best in this regard, but
+you may have to add a "From:" line to the patch if it has been relayed to
+you via a third party.
+When requesting a pull, be sure to give all the relevant information: where
+your tree is, what branch to pull, and what changes will result from the
+pull. The git request-pull command can be helpful in this regard; it will
+format the request as other developers expect, and will also check to be
+sure that you have remembered to push those changes to the public server.
+7.2: REVIEWING PATCHES
+Some readers will certainly object to putting this section with "advanced
+topics" on the grounds that even beginning kernel developers should be
+reviewing patches. It is certainly true that there is no better way to
+learn how to program in the kernel environment than by looking at code
+posted by others. In addition, reviewers are forever in short supply; by
+looking at code you can make a significant contribution to the process as a
+Reviewing code can be an intimidating prospect, especially for a new kernel
+developer who may well feel nervous about questioning code - in public -
+which has been posted by those with more experience. Even code written by
+the most experienced developers can be improved, though. Perhaps the best
+piece of advice for reviewers (all reviewers) is this: phrase review
+comments as questions rather than criticisms. Asking "how does the lock
+get released in this path?" will always work better than stating "the
+locking here is wrong."
+Different developers will review code from different points of view. Some
+are mostly concerned with coding style and whether code lines have trailing
+white space. Others will focus primarily on whether the change implemented
+by the patch as a whole is a good thing for the kernel or not. Yet others
+will check for problematic locking, excessive stack usage, possible
+security issues, duplication of code found elsewhere, adequate
+documentation, adverse effects on performance, user-space ABI changes, etc.
+All types of review, if they lead to better code going into the kernel, are
+welcome and worthwhile.
diff --git a/Documentation/development-process/8.Conclusion b/Documentation/development-process/8.Conclusion
new file mode 100644
@@ -0,0 +1,74 @@
+8: FOR MORE INFORMATION
+There are numerous sources of information on Linux kernel development and
+related topics. First among those will always be the Documentation
+directory found in the kernel source distribution. The top-level HOWTO
+file is an important starting point; SubmittingPatches and
+SubmittingDrivers are also something which all kernel developers should
+read. Many internal kernel APIs are documented using the kerneldoc
+mechanism; "make htmldocs" or "make pdfdocs" can be used to generate those
+documents in HTML or PDF format (though the version of TeX shipped by some
+distributions runs into internal limits and fails to process the documents
+Various web sites discuss kernel development at all levels of detail. Your
+author would like to humbly suggest http://lwn.net/ as a source;
+information on many specific kernel topics can be found via the LWN kernel
+Beyond that, a valuable resource for kernel developers is:
+Information about the linux-next tree gathers at:
+And, of course, one should not forget http://kernel.org/, the definitive
+location for kernel release information.
+There are a number of books on kernel development:
+ Linux Device Drivers, 3rd Edition (Jonathan Corbet, Alessandro
+ Rubini, and Greg Kroah-Hartman). Online at
+ Linux Kernel Development (Robert Love).
+ Understanding the Linux Kernel (Daniel Bovet and Marco Cesati).
+All of these books suffer from a common fault, though: they tend to be
+somewhat obsolete by the time they hit the shelves, and they have been on
+the shelves for a while now. Still, there is quite a bit of good
+information to be found there.
+Documentation for git can be found at:
+Congratulations to anybody who has made it through this long-winded
+document. Hopefully it has provided a helpful understanding of how the
+Linux kernel is developed and how you can participate in that process.
+In the end, it's the participation that matters. Any open source software
+project is no more than the sum of what its contributors put into it. The
+Linux kernel has progressed as quickly and as well as it has because it has
+been helped by an impressively large group of developers, all of whom are
+working to make it better. The kernel is a premier example of what can be
+done when thousands of people work together toward a common goal.
+The kernel can always benefit from a larger developer base, though. There
+is always more work to do. But, just as importantly, most other
+participants in the Linux ecosystem can benefit through contributing to the
+kernel. Getting code into the mainline is the key to higher code quality,
+lower maintenance and distribution costs, a higher level of influence over
+the direction of kernel development, and more. It is a situation where
+everybody involved wins. Fire up your editor and come join us; you will be
+more than welcome.