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Shuah Khan

Shuah Khan, of Samsung Research America, is a Linux kernel contributor and maintainer.

The Linux kernel development community remains extremely busy, as shown in the recent Linux Kernel Development Report, written by Jonathan Corbet and Greg Kroah-Hartman. Since the 4.7 release, just under 83,000 changesets have been merged from 4,319 individual developers representing 519 known corporations. Part of this busy development process involves the kernel testing infrastructure. According to the report, the “zero-day build and boot robot” system alone found 223 bugs (all of which were fixed) during the most recent reporting period. The in-kernel self-test framework continues to improve and will someday be a comprehensive test suite for the kernel.

Shuah Khan

Shuah Khan

Shuah Khan, Senior Linux Kernel Developer at Samsung Research America, is the maintainer of the kernel self-test framework. In this article, Khan answers a few questions about her work on the Linux kernel.

The Linux Foundation: What role do you play in the community and what subsystem(s) do you work on?

Shuah Khan: I maintain the Linux kernel self-test framework and USB-over-IP driver. I also contribute to the Linux Media, Power Management, IOMMU, and DMA areas. I publish articles related to the Linux kernel on the Samsung Open Source Group (OSG) blog and have previously written for the Linux Journal, where I authored a paper on Linux Kernel Testing and Debugging.

The Linux Foundation: What have you been working on this year? 

Khan: My main focus this year has been Exynos platform upstream stability, Kselftest framework and individual tests. I contributed to improving the quality of media subsystem core, and media and drm drivers on Exynos platform. I enhanced and improved the Kselftest framework by adding support for the Test Anything Protocol and object relocation. In addition, I boot tested stable kernel release candidates and maintained the Kselftest and USB-over-IP drivers.

The Linux Foundation: What do you think the kernel community needs to work on in the upcoming year?

Khan: The Linux Kernel community should continue its focus on adding support for new hardware, harden the security, and improve quality. Focusing on effective ways to proactively detect security vulnerabilities, race conditions, and hard-to-find problems will help towards achieving the above goals. As a process issue, community would have to take a close look at the maintainer to developer ratio to avoid maintainer fatigue and bottlenecks.

The Linux Foundation: Why do you contribute to the Linux kernel?

Khan: Contributing to the Linux kernel requires a unique set of skills in addition to the technical know-how. Contributors should be open to their ideas and work challenged and questioned, be ready to accept criticism, be open and flexible to evolve their ideas and work based on feedback from other contributors. It is an iterative process of review and refinement to evolve a fix or a feature that adds value to the kernel. I enjoy the technical challenges and being part of the community that works towards a common goal of making the Linux kernel better in each release.

You can learn more about the Linux kernel development process and read more developer profiles in the full report. Download the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report now.

linux kernel development

Part of the ongoing Linux development work involves hardening the kernel against attack.

Security is paramount these days for any computer system, including those running on Linux. Thus, part of the ongoing Linux development work involves hardening the kernel against attack, according to the recent Linux Kernel Development Report.

This work, according to report authors Jonathan Corbet and Greg Kroah-Hartman, involves the addition of several new technologies, many of which have their origin in the grsecurity and PaX patch sets. “New hardening features include virtually mapped kernel stacks, the use of the GCC plugin mechanism for structure-layout randomization, the hardened usercopy mechanism, and a new reference-count mechanism that detects and defuses reference-count overflows. Each of these features makes the kernel more resistant to attack,” the report states.

Linux kernel

Kees Cook

In this series, we are highlighting some of the hard-working developers who contribute to the Linux kernel. Here, Kees Cook, Software Engineer at Google, answers a few questions about his work.

Linux Foundation: What role do you play in the community and what subsystem(s) do you work on?

Kees Cook: Recently, I organized the Kernel Self-Protection Project (KSPP), which has helped focus lots of other developers to work together to harden the kernel against attack. I’m also the maintainer of seccomp, pstore, LKDTM, and gcc-plugin subsystems, and a co-maintainer of sysctl.

Linux Foundation: What have you been working on this year?

Cook: I’ve been focused on KSPP work. I’ve assisted many other developers by helping port, develop, test, and shepherd things like hardened usercopy, gcc plugins, KASLR improvements, PAN emulation, refcount_t conversion, and stack protector improvements.

Linux Foundation: What do you think the kernel community needs to work on in the upcoming year?

Cook: I think we’ve got a lot of work ahead in standardizing the definitions of syscalls (to help run-time checkers), and continuing to identify and eliminate error-prone code patterns (to avoid common flaws). Doing these kinds of tree-wide changes continues to be quite a challenge for contributors because the kernel development model tends to focus on per-subsystem development.

Linux Foundation: Why do you contribute to the Linux kernel?

Cook: I’ve always loved working with low-level software, close to the hardware boundary. I love the challenges it presents. Additionally, since Linux is used in all corners of the world, it’s hard to find a better project to contribute to that has such an impact on so many people’s lives.

You can learn more about the Linux kernel development process and read more developer profiles in the full report. Download the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report now.

Mauro Carvalho Chehab answers a few questions about his work on the Linux kernel.

According to the recent Linux Kernel Development Report, the Linux operating system runs 90 percent of the public cloud workload, has 62 percent of the embedded market share, and 100 percent of the TOP500 supercomputers. It also runs 82 percent of the world’s smartphones and nine of the top ten public clouds. However, the sustained growth of this open source ecosystem would not be possible without the steady development of the Linux kernel.

In this series, we are highlighting the ongoing work of some Linux kernel contributors. Here, Mauro Carvalho Chehab, Open Source Director at Samsung Research Brazil, answers a few questions about his work on the kernel.

Linux Foundation: What role do you play in the community and what subsystem(s) do you work on?

I’m responsible for the Open Source efforts at Samsung Research Brazil, as part of Samsung’s Open Source Group. I maintain the media and EDAC (Error Detection and Correction) kernel subsystems.

Linux Foundation: What have you been working on this year?

This year, I did a lot of patches that improves Linux documentation. A lot of them were related to the conversion from the XML-based DocBook docs to a markup language (Restructured Text). Thanks to that, no documents use the legacy document system anymore. I also finally closed the documentation gap at the DVB API, with was out of sync for more than 10 years! I also did several bug fixes at the media subsystem, including the 4.9 breakage of many drivers that were doing DMA via stack.

Linux Foundation: What do you think the kernel community needs to work on in the upcoming year?

We should continue our work to support new device drivers and get rid of out of tree stuff. At the media subsystem, we should work to add support for newer TV standards, like ATSC version 3 and to improve support for embedded systems, on both DVB and V4L2 APIs.

Linux Foundation: Why do you contribute to the Linux kernel?

Because it is fun! Seriously, I strongly believe that the innovation process on computer engineering is currently driven by Linux. Working on its kernel has provided me the opportunity of working with great developers and helping to improve the top operating system.

You can learn more about the Linux kernel development process and read more developer profiles in the full report. Download the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report now.

Since its release 26 years ago, Linux has not only persisted–it has come to dominate every market it enters. So it came as no surprise when Top500.org revealed that Linux powers every one of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers.

Linux is the right match for the needs of the supercomputing industry because it’s immensely scalable, proven and free for anyone to use. The real strength of Linux, however, lies in the community behind it.

More than 15,000 developers have contributed to the Linux kernel over time and they are not letting up. This year we’ve seen 10,000 lines of code added each day, 2,000 modified and 2,500 removed. Linux changes 8.5 times every hour, allowing it to meet a continuously evolving array of developer needs.

While we’re elated by the community’s achievement in supercomputers, we also note heavy use of Linux in other demanding environments. Of IBM’s top mainframe customers, 90 percent run Linux. Similarly, Linux powers 90 percent of the public cloud workload. We estimate Linux has 62 percent of the embedded systems market, and earlier this year, Linux-based Android became the Internet’s most widely used operating system.

The growth of Linux shows no signs of slowing. Its success is the result of the dedication of the open source community that is committed to sharing best practices and promoting the use of Linux in areas like mainframe, HPC, and more. This has been an amazing year for Linux and open source, and we look forward to even more growth in 2018.

The Linux kernel is the lowest level of software running on a Linux system. It manages the hardware, runs user programs, and maintains the overall security and integrity of the whole system, according to the recent Linux Kernel Development Report. It is also the result of one of the largest cooperative software projects ever attempted, with some 15,600 individual developers from more than 1,400 different companies contributing to the kernel since 2005.

Linux kernel developer Arnd Bergmann

The report, released by The Linux Foundation, outlines the development process and highlights the ongoing work of some of these contributors. In this article, Arnd Bergmann of Linaro answers a few questions about his work on the kernel.

Linux Foundation: What role do you play in the community and what subsystem(s) do you work on?

Arnd Bergmann: I co-maintain the arm-soc kernel tree together with Olof Johansson. This is where all the platform-specific changes for ARM processors and SoCs (both 32-bit and 64-bit) get merged. This is one of the larger subsystems in the kernel, and it interacts with most driver subsystems.

I also maintain a couple of smaller things in the kernel. In particular, I look after new CPU architectures getting merged into the kernel and the associated include/asm-generic/ directory. One of my long-term projects is to fix the time_t overflow in the kernel, which will cause 32-bit code to fail in the year 2038.

Linux Foundation: What have you been working on this year?

Bergmann: Aside from my maintainer work, I have spent a lot of time during the last year on fixing hundreds of smaller bugs that lead to build failures or warnings. I started doing a lot of build-testing as a way to improve the quality of contributions I merge into the kernel from other people, but this has now turned into a separate effort to get all random configurations to build cleanly.

Linux Foundation: What do you think the kernel community needs to work on in the upcoming year?

Bergmann: I hope we can get the y2038 cleanup work to the point of actually being able to build a kernel with no 32-bit time_t users. For this, we still need help from additional developers cleaning up various areas of the kernel.

You can learn more about the Linux kernel development process and read more developer profiles in the full report. Download the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report now.

The Linux Kernel Development Report, which was recently released by The Linux Foundation, sheds light on various aspects of the development process as well as on who is doing the work. According to the report, more than 85 percent of all kernel development is done by developers who are being paid for their work. Additionally, the overall number of companies involved in working toward the improvement of the kernel is increasing, with the top 30 companies contributing to the Linux kernel shown in the table at right.

The report states:

What we see here is that a small number of companies is responsible for a large portion of the total changes to the kernel. But there is a “long tail” of companies (nearly 500 of which do not appear in the above list) which have made significant changes since the 4.7 release. There may be no other examples of such a large, common resource being supported by such a large group of independent actors in such a collaborative way.

Jens Axboe, Software Engineer at Facebook

In this article, Jens Axboe, Software Engineer at Facebook, answers a few questions about how and why he contributes to the Linux kernel.

The Linux Foundation: What role do you play in the community and what subsystem(s) do you work on?

Jens Axboe: I’m the Linux block layer maintainer, so I primarily develop features in that area, as well as help review and guide others doing the same.

The Linux Foundation: What have you been working on this year?

Axboe: This year, I contributed an IO scheduler framework for the block multiqueue subsystem, support for allowing applications to inform the kernel of life time of writes, and much faster IO accounting for blk-mq.   

Since 4.8, I have contributed about 200 patches. In terms of features, the most interesting, which are not mentioned above, are probably writeback throttling (blk-wbt), IO polling for fast devices (both classic and hybrid/efficient modes), and more efficient O_DIRECT.

The Linux Foundation: What do you think the kernel community needs to work on in the upcoming year?

Axboe: Attracting more young talent. Most young folks these days gravitate towards product instead of infrastructure. It’s important that we bring new talent into the fold.

The Linux Foundation: Why do you contribute to the Linux kernel?

Axboe: First of all, because I enjoy the work. It’s challenging and fun, plus there’s a personal gratification knowing that your code is running on billions of devices. Finally, it’s my job.

You can learn more about the Linux kernel development process and read more developer profiles in the full report. Download the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report now.

Read about featured Linux kernel developers in the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report.

The recent Linux Kernel Development Report released by The Linux Foundation, included information about several featured Linux kernel developers. According to the report, roughly 15,600 developers from more than 1,400 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since 2005, when the adoption of Git made detailed tracking possible. Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting some specific Linux kernel developers who agreed to answer a few questions about what they do and why they contribute to the kernel.

Linux kernel developer

Laura Abbott, a Fedora Kernel Engineer at Red Hat

In this article, we feature Laura Abbott, a Fedora Kernel Engineer at Red Hat.

The Linux Foundation: What role do you play in the community and what subsystem(s) do you work on?

Laura Abbott: My full-time job is working as one of two maintainers for the Fedora kernels. This means I push out kernel releases and fix/shepherd bugs. Outside of that role, I maintain the Ion memory management framework and do occasional work on arm/arm64 and KSPP (kernel hardening).

The Linux Foundation: What have you been working on this year?

Abbott: I did some major reworking on Ion this year and ripped out a lot of code (everyone’s favorite type of patch!). Hopefully, I’ll be able to report that Ion is out of staging in the next kernel report. Apart from that, I’ve spent a lot of time testing and reviewing patches for kernel hardening.

The Linux Foundation: What do you think the kernel community needs to work on in the upcoming year?

Abbott: As a general theme, there needs to be a focus on scaling the community. There’s always an ongoing discussion about how to attract new developers and there’s been a recent focus on how to grow contributors into maintainers. There’s still a lot of ‘tribal knowledge’ in pretty much every area which makes things difficult for everyone. I’d like to see the kernel community continue to make processes easier for new and existing developers. I’d also like to see the discussions about building an inclusive community continue.

The Linux Foundation: Why do you contribute to the Linux kernel?

Abbott: I’ve always found low-level systems fascinating and enjoy seeing how all the pieces work together. There’s always something new to learn about in the kernel, and I find the work challenging.

You can learn more about the Linux kernel development process and read more developer profiles in the full report. Download the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report now.

participating in open source

The Linux Foundation’s free online guide Participating in Open Source Communities can help organizations successfully navigate open source waters.

As companies in and out of the technology industry move to advance their open source programs, they are rapidly learning about the value of participating in open source communities. Organizations are using open source code to build their own commercial products and services, which drives home the strategic value of contributing back to projects.

However, diving in and participating without an understanding of projects and their communities can lead to frustration and other unfortunate outcomes. Approaching open source contributions without a strategy can tarnish a company’s reputation in the open source community and incur legal risks.

The Linux Foundation’s free online guide Participating in Open Source Communities can help organizations successfully navigate these open source waters. The detailed guide covers what it means to contribute to open source as an organization and what it means to be a good corporate citizen. It explains how open source projects are structured, how to contribute, why it’s important to devote internal developer resources to participation, as well as why it’s important to create a strategy for open source participation and management.

One of the most important first steps is to rally leadership behind your community participation strategy. “Support from leadership and acknowledgement that open source is a business critical part of your strategy is so important,” said Nithya Ruff, Senior Director, Open Source Practice at Comcast. “You should really understand the company’s objectives and how to enable them in your open source strategy.”

Building relationships is good strategy

The guide also notes that building relationships at events can make a difference, and that including community members early and often is a good strategy. “Some organizations make the mistake of developing big chunks of code in house and then dumping them into the open source project, which is almost never seen as a positive way to engage with the community,” the guide notes. “The reality is that open source projects can be complex, and what seems like an obvious change might have far reaching side effects in other parts of the project.”

Through the guide, you can also learn how to navigate issues of influence in community participation. It can be challenging for organizations to understand how influence is earned within open source projects. “Just because your organization is a big deal, doesn’t mean that you should expect to be treated like one without earning the respect of the open source community,” the guide advises.

The Participating in Open Source Communities guide can help you with these strategies and more, and it explores how to weave community focus into your open source initiatives. It is one of a new collection of free guides from The Linux Foundation and The TODO Group that provide essential information for any organization running an open source program. The guides are available now to help you run an open source program office where open source is supported, shared, and leveraged. With such an office, organizations can efficiently establish and execute on their open source strategies.

These guides were produced based on expertise from open source leaders. Check out the guides and stay tuned for our continuing coverage.

Don’t miss the previous articles in the series:

How to Create an Open Source Program

Tools for Managing Open Source Programs

Measuring Your Open Source Program’s Success

Effective Strategies for Recruiting Open Source Developers

The 2017 Linux Kernel Report illustrates the kernel development process and highlights the work of some of the dedicated developers creating the largest collaborative project in the history of computing.

Roughly 15,600 developers from more than 1,400 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since 2005, when the adoption of Git made detailed tracking possible, according to the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report released at the Linux Kernel Summit in Prague.

This report — co-authored by Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel developer and editor of LWN.net, and Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux kernel maintainer and Linux Foundation fellow — illustrates the kernel development process and highlights the work of some of the dedicated developers who are creating the largest collaborative project in the history of computing.

Jens Axboe, Linux block maintainer and software engineer at Facebook, contributes to the kernel because he enjoys the work. “It’s challenging and fun, plus there’s a personal gratification knowing that your code is running on billions of devices,” he said.

The 2017 report covers development work completed through Linux kernel 4.13, with an emphasis on releases 4.8 to 4.13. During this reporting period, an average of 8.5 changes per hour were accepted into the kernel; this is a significant increase from the 7.8 changes seen in the previous report.

Here are other highlights from the report:

  • Since the last report, more than 4,300 developers from over 500 companies have contributed to the kernel.
  • 1,670 of these developers contributed for the first time — about a third of contributors.
  • The most popular area for new developers to make their first patch is the “staging tree,” which is a place for device drivers that are not yet ready for inclusion in the kernel proper.
  • The top 10 organizations sponsoring Linux kernel development since the last report are Intel, Red Hat, Linaro, IBM, Samsung, SUSE, Google, AMD, Renesas, and Mellanox.

Kernel developer Julia Lawall, Senior Researcher at Inria, works on the Coccinelle tool that’s used to find bugs in the Linux kernel. She contributes to the kernel for many reasons, including “the potential impact, the challenge of understanding a huge code base of low-level code, and the chance to interact with a community with a very high level of technical skill.”

You can learn more about the Linux kernel development process and read more developer profiles in the full report. Download the 2017 Linux Kernel Development Report now.

OpenStack Summit Sydney

OpenStack Summit Sydney offers 11+ session tracks and plenty of educational workshops, tutorials, panels. Start planning your schedule now.

Going to OpenStack Summit Sydney? While you’re there, be sure stop by The Linux Foundation training booth for fun giveaways and a chance to win a Raspberry Pi kit. The drawing for prizes will take place 1 week after the conference on November 15.

Giveaways include The Linux Foundation projects’ stickers, and free ebooks: The SysAdmin’s Essential Guide to Linux Workstation Security, Practical GPL Compliance, A Guide to Understanding OPNFV & NFV, and the Open Source Guide Volume 1.

With 11+ session tracks to choose from, and plenty of educational workshops, tutorials, panels — start planning your schedule at OpenStack Summit in Sydney now.

Session tracks include:

  • Architecture & Operations
  • Birds of a Feather
  • Cloud & OpenStack 101
  • Community & Leadership
  • Containers & Cloud-Native Apps
  • Contribution & Upstream Development
  • Enterprise
  • Forum
  • Government
  • Hands-on Workshop
  • Open Source Days
  • And More.

View the full OpenStack Summit Sydney schedule here.

Cloud Native Computing Foundation and Cloud Foundry will also have a booth at OpenStack Summit Sydney. Get your pass to OpenStack and stop by to learn more!