Anybody who has been following Linus's BitKeeper tree knows that very few
patches have gone in recently. Linus is doing his best to restrict things
to only the most important fixes. As a result, one might get the
impression that 2.6 development has stalled. Development continues, of
course, and bug fixes are being produced, but most of that work is not
getting into the tree in the interests of getting a highly stable 2.6.0
Linus explains his policy this way:
I've been trying to be an absolute _bastard_ when it comes to
patches. Yeah, I just looked. Lately they've been averaging about
3-4kB per day. And the sick thing is, I'm still not satisfied. I
want it to become an absolute _trickle_ of one-liners that fix real
This policy makes some sense; it should quiet the waters enough to help the
developers find most of the final serious problems in 2.6.0. The only
problem, though, is that there is an increasingly large pile of patches
which will have to go in after 2.6.0. As a way of thinking about what
happens then, consider what Linus said
almost three years ago, when 2.4.0 came out:
The linux kernel has had an interesting release pattern: usually
the .0 release was actually fairly good (there's almost always
_something_ stupid, but on the whole not really horrible). And
every single time so far, .1 has been worse. It usually takes
until something like .5 until it has caught up and surpassed the
stability of .0 again.
Why? Because there are a lot of pent-up patches waiting for
inclusion, that didn't get through the "we need to get a release
out, that patch can wait" filter. So early on in the stable tree,
some of those patches make it. And it turns out to be a bad idea.
To an extent, things have to be opened up a bit after the 2.6.0 release.
The wider testing that the "dot-zero" release gets is certain to turn up
new bugs that will need fixing. And a number of the fixes out there do
need to go in before 2.6 can be deployed in a lot of production
situations. So chances are good that the usual pattern will be followed;
things will destabilize a little before 2.6 is truly ready for wider use.
That, perhaps, is simply the way kernels have to be made.
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