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Is the kernel development process broken?

Is the kernel development process broken?

Posted Mar 10, 2005 21:15 UTC (Thu) by mrshiny (subscriber, #4266)
In reply to: Is the kernel development process broken? by oak
Parent article: Is the kernel development process broken?

So what? That gives the kernel developers an excuse to release broken software? The technical challenges behind Gnome or KDE may be much smaller than the kernel, but then, I expect that the calibre of developer on the kernel is much higher. And I expect that their level of quality control should be higher, since their product is actually more important.

As for the problem of stable APIs, I'm a believer in stable APIs. The kernel developers like to complain that stable APIs make their jobs harder, but I think the reality is that they make certain jobs harder and other jobs easier. For example, it's easier to make any change you want if the API is unstable, because you don't have to worry about compatibility. On the other hand, it's hard to work on drivers that need to work on multiple versions of the kernel, since there's an unlimited number of API revisions. It's harder to make a new module of any kind that needs to run on multiple kernel versions.

Anyway, the hardware API that the kernel runs on changes very slowly. The kernel has hardly any dependencies, except on itself. So any problems that are due to API flux are created by the kernel developers themselves. However, they've claimed that flexible API is how they want to work, so, fine, that's how they work.

I think the kernel process could be improved by separating the drivers into a separate project. That way we could have new drivers for old kernels, instead of having to install new kernels just to get new drivers. If we just accomplished that separation, then I bet most users would be totally happy since they could pick whatever 2.6.x works for them, and use the 2.6-series drivers to their heart's content. Most people don't need new kernels, they only need new drivers. But I won't elaborate on this since Greg KH has already flamed me about this very topic. Let's just say that I disagree with the kernel developers about their development practices.


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