Linux 2.5 Kernel Developers Get Global View

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-05-05 Print this article Print

Few Linux kernel developers have had the luxury of seeing the big picture of their efforts.

Few Linux kernel developers have had the luxury of seeing the big picture of their efforts. Usually whats available are only specific pictures of problems in their component area.

But officials of Open Source Development Lab Inc. have changed that. OSDL now compiles every new release of the 2.5 kernel and publishes the results and the benchmark, allowing the thousands of developers in the community to fix the errors and warnings that show up.

Lab directors said there was a need for a global view of what is and isnt working in the kernel, said John Cherry, OSDLs engineering manager, in Beaverton, Ore.

"I was noticing that, especially as far as the compilation warnings and errors were concerned, you could see the core kernel getting better, but, at the same time, there would be ... drivers not getting addressed," Cherry said.

Cherry put together some compile screens that had been used on the IA-32 and IA-64 platforms to compile "everything, the world. To my surprise, no one was doing that," he said.

OSDL has now installed this process in its Patch Lifecycle Manager system. When developers use the system, they are taken through a set of compile screens, and the results are automatically fed back to them.

"As I decided to compile as much as possible, developers will get back a lot more than they hoped for," Cherry said. "But theres method to this madness. Each developer will ... see everything thats failing in the kernel and not just their own little part."

Cherry has also taken the tree from Linus Torvalds source code control system, BitKeeper, and does nightly builds and keeps histories and trends.

"Were finally starting to see some movement in the 2.5 kernel. For a while, we were adding as many defects as we were fixing. But, over the past few weeks, weve seen good progress, so convergence is starting to happen," Cherry said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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