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Linux kernel maintainer mulls “bug fix-only cycle”

May 8, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Production Linux kernel maintainer Andrew Morton says Linux may be getting “buggier,” and if he can prove it, he'll decree a “bug fix-only kernel cycle,” according to an article at ZDNet UK. However, Morton's definition of “bug” is quite broad, observes Linux-Watch columnist Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols.

Morton voiced his Linux bug worries at LinuxTag, a large annual technical conference and business expo held in Wiesbaden, Germany, last week.

Morton maintains an -mm tree in which new kernel patches are typically tested, before being merged into the mainline source tree. He says developers are failing to address long-standing issues, such as bugs in support for older hardware. He adds that companies employing kernel hackers are not motivated to fix such bugs, despite the hurdles they present to wider Linux adoption.

In a Linux-Watch reaction piece, Vaughan-Nichols suggests that backwards compatibility bugs may be more to blame on hardware makers, since few offer Linux drivers or the information needed by the kernel community to write them easily.

Meanwhile, a vendor of software quality testing tools said last August that Linux kernel code quality improved significantly between releases 2.6.9 and 2.6.12, with all critical faults fixed, and a 2.2 percent drop in defects. Coverity's analysis of the 2.6.12 kernel's six million lines found just 0.16 defects per thousand lines, far below a commercial software average of 20 to 30 defects per thousand lines.

The ZDNet story can be found here; the Linux-Watch perspective is here.

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