What Greg Does
With my recent job change, I'm starting to run into a bunch of
people asking "What exactly are you going to be doing now?"
I've tried responding by describing the kernel related stuff I've been
doing for the past years, and it turns out that a lot of people didn't
even realize I was doing that.
So, here's a short list of some of the things that I'm going to be doing
at my new job, and most importantly, how you can track what I do yourself,
so that I never have to write a status report again...
Stable kernel releases
I've been releasing the Linux kernel stable releases since way back when
they first started up, in mid 2005. Early on, the most excellent kernel
developer Chris Wright helped out with this task, but for the past few
years, I've been doing this on my own.
These releases take the last kernel released by Linus and add any needed
bugfixes and other related patches that have gone into Linus's
development tree, and package it all up in a format that users can use
themselves during the 2-3 month development cycle time while the kernel
developers are madly working on creating the next kernel release.
For a description of what entails a change that is acceptable into the
stable kernel releases, and how to get a patch accepted, please see the
file Documentation/stable _ kernel _ rules.txt in the
kernel source tree.
Every year I pick a specific kernel version and declare that as
"longterm". That kernel gets support from me for bugfixes and related
things for two years before it is gracefully retired to a more leisurely
release cycle by the capable extra-extra longterm maintainer. For
details on how the longterm kernel works, and how it is picked, see
this older post I wrote on the topic.
If you want to be notified of when these kernels are released, you can
do one of the following:
- read lwn.net, they post the announcements mere hours after they
happen. They also post lots of other wonderful things, if you aren't
reading this site already, you are missing out.
- subscribe to the linux-kernel or stable mailing lists. Note, you will
get a lot of other traffic, but it's all good, you wanted to know what
was going on in Linux kernel development directly from the developers
- subscribe to my twitter feed. You might get other random
blatherings there, but I do post the announcements to it.
- watch the Linux G+ feed, the releases are all announced there.
- subscribe to the google calender feeds of the kernel releases. This
is maintained by the talented Tsugikazu Shibata (high powered
executive by day, Linux kernel developer by night) and can be found
here for the stable kernel releases, here
for the main Linux kernel releases, and here for the kernel
Kernel subsystem maintainer
When I'm not releasing stable kernels, I also maintain a number of
different kernel subsystems. These entail USB, driver core, staging,
tty, and a variety of other bits of the kernel. Being a maintainer
means you read patches from submitters, handle questions from both
developers and users about things related to the subsystem (usually bug
reports). If a patch looks acceptable, you test it if possible, and
apply it to the relevant git tree and push it publicly, and notify the
author that it was accepted. Every weekday, these git trees get merged
together in the linux-next release, and inevitably, problems are
reported and it's up to the maintainer to fix them when they affect
their portion of the kernel.
If you are curious as to exactly what portions of the kernel I maintain,
look at the MAINTAINERS file in the kernel source tree
and search for my name. Those entries will show you exactly where the
git tree for the subsystem lives, as well as the proper mailing list to
contact if you have questions in those areas.
If you want to follow the development done in these various areas, and
what patches I apply, you can subscribe to the RSS feed of the
individual git trees listed in the MAINTAINERS file, or you can follow
along on the various different mailing lists.
When not releasing kernels or reviewing patches from others, I
occasionally get time to fix bugs, rework existing code to solve
problems or extend it in various ways, or even rarer, write a new driver
for some random hardware device. This is one area that I should be
doing more of now that I have extra time available.
Right now I'm working on a driver for a USB to serial device that Linux
doesn't support, and I have some ideas for how portions of the driver
core can be reworked to handle some areas better (most of that has been
suggested by Kay years ago, I really should get around to implementing
them...) I also have some ideas on cleaning up some cruftier portions
of the kernel that haven't seen any love for many years, but that's more
of a long-term goal, no specifics yet.
If you want to follow along with this development, just watch the main
kernel tree for commits by me. That can be done by either subscribing
to the rss feed for the kernel tree, or just using git and doing simple
I keep my kernel development and maintainership scripts and directory
structure in a public github repo, if you are curious
about how this type of thing works. There's lots of scripts helpfully
named "do.sh" which I really should rename to be a bit more descriptive,
but make sense to me relative to the directory they are located in.
I also have lots of talks, scripts, and other minor projects in my
public github repo, if you are curious as to other
things I work on over time.
Linux Driver Project
Despite the creaky web page, the Linux Driver project is
continuing on quite well. We have written a number of new drivers now
included in the main kernel tree, as well as maintaining the staging
portion of the kernel. I'll be working on revamping the web site to
make it a bit more obvious as to what is going on here, but again, the
best way to follow this work is to watch the mailing list.
LTSI kernel maintainership
As has been announced in various places, the LTSI project (Long Term
Support Initiative) has started up with the goal to provide a kernel
that the consumer electronic companies can use to help reduce their
maintenance burden, and to provide a common area where they can learn how
to get involved in upstream kernel development.
I'm helping in setting the kernel tree for that project
up, and getting some of the procedures and processes in place for it to
succeed in the long run. For now, until it really gets up and going,
I'm also going to be maintaining the tree myself, handling the patches
and working on the support scripts to make it easier to develop using
it. If you want to track this work, watch the kernel tree, or join the
public mailing list.
I'm also talking with lots of different companies that create chips used
in consumer devices that have traditionally been out of the main kernel
tree, and with others that are active upstream developers, to try to get
them all working better together. I'm also working with the Yocto
project to see how the two projects can work together in sharing their
To follow the development of this kernel, you can subscribe to the
mailing list, read the archives, or just watch the git tree.
I'm still going to continue my maintenance of the openSUSE
Tumbleweed distro, as I've come to rely on it, and it
really takes almost no time at all to keep up and working properly. To
follow along with any Tumbleweed questions/concerns, please read the
openSUSE-Factory mailing list. The scripts used to maintain the
Tumbleweed distro, and the list of packages in it, can be seen, and
watched, in the tumbleweed github repo.
I'm also going to continue to remain a Gentoo developer, and
will have time to do more package maintenance there, which I have not
had the opportunity over the past few years.
Both of these are distros that I use every day on my development systems
and my servers, and are great community-based distributions.
"You traveled last year as much as people think you do."
-- my wife
As usual, I'll be attending all of the various Linux Foundation
events held all around the world, as well as other different
conferences that I'm invited to and can find time to get to. Odds are
I'll also be traveling to different companies to work with their kernel
developers on how to get them to integrate better with the upstream
kernel community, or how the LTSI kernel can help them out.
So once again, my frequent flier miles status will probably not be
downgraded this year, much to my very patient family's despair.
Is that all?
So, hopefully that explains a bit of what I'll be doing in the near
future for the upcoming years. Needless to say, I'm thrilled to be
working for the Linux Foundation and that they are supporting me in all
of this. If there's anything that anyone is thinking I should be doing
but seem not to be, please let me know. I want to make Linux
succeed and thrive, and whatever I can do to help that out, I will.