adventurousness of kernel development
Posted Sep 24, 2005 4:25 UTC (Sat) by pengo
Parent article: Reiser4 and kernel inclusion
The kernel folk have changed to having faster release cycles, with shorter windows for new features, and as a result they're getting smaller things done with greater momentum. However, This is impacting the adventurousness of development.
Andrew Morton recently suggested that number of major features lined up for the kernel have been slowing down. But instead of seeing this as a symptom of a release cycle speed that doesn't allow for big new features, he sees it as a sign that the kernel is nearly "finished", whatever that means.
The core developers see it as their job to put up barriers for new ideas, shouting down anything new or different. Only the elite are good enough to prove themselves and get the ultimate "mainline merge". Sure, it works, but it's a negative and destructive culture to be creating.
So now where is the direction for development coming from? The push for Reiser4's features have come from Hans Reiser himself, and through his costant dedication he might get a subset of it might be merged.. eventually. One person slogging away to make change. What is this? government bureaucracy or something? I thought this was meant to be a community.
Of course new features are going to slow down when the barriers to new feature inclusion are so high that you need to spend years working on something, and possibly get yourself into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, just to create a gift that is so easily wasted.
Features need to be brainstormed, pondered, considered, played with, listed, given scenarios to work through, and allowed to grow and develop. Not just constantly shouted down. There needs to be someone in charge of managing ideas and potential new features for the linux kernel, not only a hord of hackers who know better.
I'm not saying it's wrong to criticise an idea or a patch or whatever, and certainly Linux wouldn't what it is today without Linus taking the role of chief of "saying no" to patches. But where's the other side that makes new things? It rarely seems to come from within, and worse, is rarely encouraged.
</armchair developer rant>
Now for my proposed solutions:
* How about Linus starts a 2.7 branch to encourage some new major features. This would be concurrent with the current development style, but give a place for some major changes to simmer. And would encourage developers to think about major features again.
* Reiser4 folk and people looking for then next new thing start their own distribution that only runs with a Reiser4 fs, and makes its feature visible to users as much as possible, and exploits its features as much as possible. For example, having pretty displays of file metadata in Nautilus, and creating intuitive interfaces for opening folders that are also files, or having scripts that dont care if they create a lot of little files in a directory (when it makes sense to do so). Of course it's all just a simple matter of programming. (i.e. a lot of work), but would give interested users a way to use Reiser4 and explore its features, without needing mainline inclusion.
* Kernel development should try working on wikis more. In my experience, wikis allow ideas to grow and develop better than mailing lists, which are more geared towards people making points, and are so conducive to flamewars.
</armchair developer proposals>
to post comments)