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Guide to Linux kernel development published

Aug 13, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

The Linux Foundation (LF) has published a guide by Jonathan Corbet (pictured) on how to participate in the Linux kernel development community. The 30-page guide explains the development process, but does not require a deep knowledge of kernel programming, says the non-profit group.

Available for free download on the LF's Linux Developer Network, “How to Participate in the Linux Community” purports to show how the contribution process works, and to provide tips on how to avoid common contributor pitfalls. It is also said to demonstrate why code contributions to the mainline kernel are beneficial.

Topics covered in “How to Participate in the Linux Community” include:

  • The development process, including the kernel release cycle and the mechanics of merge windows
  • Early-stage planning and the importance of involving the kernel community early
  • The coding process, including patch requirements
  • Posting patches for review
  • Working with reviewers as part of the development process
  • Advanced topics, such as managing patches with Git and reviewing patches submitted by others

Author Jonathan Corbet is a Linux kernel developer and long-time executive editor of Linux Weekly News (, where he has published articles such as a recent one on the ksplice hot-patching utility. Corbet is also a co-author, along with Alessandro Rubini and Greg Kroah-Hartman, of Linux Device Drivers, a popular book published by O'Reilly.

Corbet co-wrote an interesting LF study published in April called “Linux Kernel Development: How Fast it is Going, Who is Doing It, What They are Doing, and Who is Sponsoring It.” The study reported that the number of Linux kernel developers has tripled since 2005. Yet, even with more than 1,000 developers working from more than 100 companies, the growing kernel, which is expanding at the rate of 10 percent a year, still needs more development help, suggests the LF.

Stated Amanda McPherson, the LF's VP, marketing and developer programs, “The Linux Foundation hears from developers all over the world who want to participate in the kernel community but sometimes struggle with exactly how. This new guide will make that process easier and bring new companies and developers into the Linux fold.”

Stated Corbet, “While the Linux kernel development process is quite open, it can sometimes be surprising or intimidating to new developers.”

Encouraging more participation from embedded developers has been a cause of key kernel developer Andrew Morton over the last year. His speeches on the subject led in part to the formation of an official “embedded maintainer” role for the kernel development team.


“How to Participate in the Linux Community,” by Jonathan Corbet is available for free download on the Linux Foundation's Linux Developer Network. The site enables readers to post questions and comments in a related forum. The LF says it plans to translate the book into languages including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.

Corbet will be speaking at the upcoming Linux Foundation End User Summit in New York on Oct. 13-14. More information and a draft agenda should be available here.

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