Is the kernel development process broken?
Posted Mar 10, 2005 6:59 UTC (Thu) by khim
In reply to: Is the kernel development process broken?
Parent article: Is the kernel development process broken?
I've made these comments before in other discussions, but what this amounts to is that some of the kernel developers seem unwilling to develop the kernel the way most people develop software: work on something until it's "finished", then fix it up until it's "stable".
Bingo! You've got a prize. Just a clarification: "some of the kernel developers" - is something like 95% of them. Most development works made on kernel is not done by "big kernel hackers" who can coordinate work with kernel releases but by independent developers (or not-so-independent developers if we are talking about people who are pair for kernel work). And they care about exactly one feature: their own. They want it to be included in kernel when it's ready and not year later when it becomes obsolete. And yes - year or so is what's needed to "properly stabilize" kernel.
With 2.4 we had mainline kernel (forever obsoleted, not really-interested for 90% of users) and vendor kernels (heavily patched and not as stable but with USB support where appropriate, with timely SATA support, with XFS and so on). With 2.6 we have exactly the opposite - and this is good thing(tm) since it's easier for everyone to have vendor kernels which are more stable and with reduced number of features then opposite situation: very small chance of API fragmentation and such.
I'd like to see someone step forward to maintain 2.6, and let the rest of the developers go off with 2.7. I don't understand why this hasn't happened really... 2.6 is really just like what a 2.7 might be. If people are happy with the current 2.6, they'll be just as happy with the 2.7 kernel. Those of us who want stuff to work can stick to 2.6.
Looks like you missed the whole article. Development kernels do not receive testing! 99% users will stuck with 2.6 till 2.8 will be out and then we'll see huge number of complains "oh, my dell keyboard does not work" and "aaa! my CD is not detected anymore". 2.6 is only stable since it's declared stable. This is not a joke: kernel can only be made stable when it's widely tested and it can only be widely tested when it's declared stable. Thus there are no realistic way to transform unstable kernel to stable one! 2.4.x were disasters for most small x - for exactly that reason. I do not see why we need repeated performance with 2.8.x...
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