Linux 2.5 Kernel Developers Get Global View

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.