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Linux gains “embedded” maintainers

May 27, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Linux kernel development is funded mostly by “enterprise” interests; yet, Linux is the top OS in devices and embedded systems. Now, two “embedded” maintainers have been added, and an official “linux-embedded” mailing list launched, to ensure that embedded interests are represented under Linux's… meritocratic governance model.

Andrew Morton finally has his wish — times two — as there are now two official “Embedded Linux” maintainers listed in the Linux kernel “Maintainers” file. David Woodhouse and Paul Gortmaker have volunteered to act as embedded Linux maintainers, and there is now a [email protected] list.

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Morton (pictured at left), who is the maintainer of Linux 2.6 and among the top five contributors to the kernel by lines of code, called for a full-time, architecture-independent “embedded maintainer” at CELF's Embedded Linux Conference in April. At the time, he reminded everyone that things “can and do break” in embedded Linux kernel development, and suggested that a dedicated person to oversee the process might help limit the damage. It was recently reported that both the number of kernel developers and number of code lines changed in each kernel release is growing rapidly (see chart below).

The number of changes per Linux kernel release has grown considerably
[Source: The Linux Foundation]

After the conference, Morton privately sent out an RFC looking into creating an Embedded Linux maintainer, and Paul Gortmaker and David Woodhouse volunteered, explained Tim Bird, CELF's Architecture Group chairman. Gortmaker of Wind River is also the maintainer of the Network Drivers section, and the Real Time Clock Driver. David Woodhouse is in charge of Journalling Flash File System V2 (JFFS2), Memory Technology Devices, and Power Supply Class/Subsystem and Drivers.

So far, the new [email protected] list has attracted over 90 subscribers, said Bird. “Hopefully, this will snowball into more focused development efforts on embedded-specific problems and features for the Linux kernel,” he added.

Linux is the number one OS in the embedded and device market, according to research from VDC. Yet, most Linux development is funded by enterprise companies, Morton observed in his ELC speech. “I don't expect that to change,” he said, while at the same time suggesting that someone close to the kernel development process ought to be looking out for embedded Linux interests. Morton formerly worked as an embedded systems engineer for digital set-top box supplier Digeo.

A complete list of kernel mailing lists can be found here. Developers can subscribe to the new linux-embedded list by sending an email with “subscribe linux-embedded” in the subject body to [email protected].

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