The Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) on Wednesday will announce a new initiative aimed at raising awareness about how the Linux kernel is developed.
The initiative comes as the war of words and litigation between The SCO Group Inc., the open-source community and the companies that support it, continues unabated, and ahead of the release of the Linux 2.6 kernel before the end of the year.
The motive behind the initiative is to increase customer confidence in using Linux, particularly as the group expects the upcoming 2.6 kernel will be used by millions of people, not only on servers and in telecommunications networks but also on desktops and in consumer electronic devices.
One OSDL spokesman told eWEEK on Tuesday that the community can expect a test11 version of the kernel from Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux and the labs full-time fellow, before the 2.6 production version is released in December.
The labs target audience with this initiative was any customer using Linux and anyone considering Linux, the spokesman said, offering that users confidence would increase with knowledge about how how Linux gets made. The message was also offered to a more general audience.
“To date, most of the conversations on this topic have been among insiders with deep technical knowledge. That conversation has tended to exclude many important stakeholders who do not speak the insider language,” he said.
The lab, a consortium of leading technology companies dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Linux, also believes that the development process of the Linux kernel, under the guidance of Linus Torvalds, “has proven to be an extremely effective means to produce powerful software for more than 10 years now,” the OSDL spokesman added.
In an effort to deflect the ongoing criticism of the Linux development process from SCO, OSDL CEO Stuart Cohen said that those attacks showed “a lack of understanding as to the rigor imposed by [Linux founder] Linus [Torvalds] himself and the development community at large. It is a process built on the scientific method of peer review,” he said.
In an effort to clarify to current and potential Linux users exactly how the Linux kernel is developed, Cohen said it was the result of the efforts of its creator, Linus Torvalds, and thousands of dedicated software developers from around the world.
“These developers are self-organized into specific subsystems defined by a developers interests and technical expertise, such as in I/O, storage and networking. Each of these subsystems has a domain expert developer, called the subsystem maintainer, who oversees the work of others,” Cohen said.
“Subsystem maintainers review the code submitted to them and orchestrate broader peer review of code to ensure its quality,” he said.
All Linux code, both the current version and that submitted for future inclusion, is also available online for public examination, Cohen added. This allows all interested parties to scrutinize all submitted code—essentially, a massive code review. Only when a subsystem maintainer accepts software code is it passed along to one of the two developers at the top of the Linux hierarchy, Torvalds himself or Andrew Morton.
Torvalds maintains the “development kernel” where new features and bug fixes are tested. Morton maintains the “production kernel” which is the version release for public use. Torvalds is the final arbiter of what is included in Linux.
Moving forward, OSDLs Johnston said that as the new version of Linux arrived, the lab would talk more about Linux, its history, the directions that its members are planning, and other topics that it feels are important to the industry and that raise awareness and understanding about Linux development.
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