Maintainers of the Linux kernel will not be able to comply in a few years to process submitted patches. The system faces collapse if they fail to distribute the workload, claims kernel developer Daniel Vetter.
Anyone can join the Linux kernel, but only a group of privileged developers are allowed to touch the actual source code. These so-called maintainers should ensure that patches and new functions that end up in the kernel, the usual quality. However, the system does not work as well as it often advertises, says kernel developer Daniel Vetter. He points out that maintainers are adopting less and less of their own code and instead, in his view, becoming a bureaucratic bottleneck. In addition, he wants to have observed that the patches of the maintainer are not as closely examined as those of the normal developers.
Vetter, himself maintainer of the Intel i915 graphics driver in the Linux kernel, has analyzed pull requests in the kernel to get his insights. As he admits, this allows only a glimpse of the subsystem level of the kernel with its various maintainers, not individual patches. However, he is mainly interested in exactly this subsystem level and he strongly advertises how he and his colleagues in the graphics subsystem have improved the maintainer situation. He recommends that other maintainers tackle kernel-scale growth, train junior maintainers, and spread the work over more shoulders.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht