Kernel Next: Interim Step for More Efficiency

Feb 13, 2008

Andrew Morton had a dream: a new kernel tree which would make kernel development easier to follow and more efficient. He looked for a maintainer and found one in Stephen Rothwell.

The new "Kernel Next" kernel tree is designed to be an intermediate step between Torvalds’ and Morton’ code. Torvalds' tree holds the next kernel due for release, which is always close to completion. The drivers and changes in the tree are definite fixtures for the next release. Morton’s tree is completely different: the "-mm" tree contains developments regarded as too experimental that need testing. Linux Next aims to improve coordination between the two. New developments that successfully pass through Morton’s tree will move on to the Next tree and from there to Torvalds.

The developers hope that the new system will improve the quality of code reaching Torvalds and thus facilitate work on the imminent kernel release. The Next tree will contain drivers which stand a very good chance of being accepted by Torvalds. The drivers will be optimized in the Next tree leaving just minor modifications to complete before acceptance for the imminent kernel version. This is a good thing for developers, and will make it easier to separate and differentiate between development stages. At the same time, subsystem maintainers will find it easier to coordinate their work.

The maintainer of the new tree is Stephen Rothwell, who is now looking for subsystem maintainers. He describes the new tree, and how he imagines future cooperation, on the Linux Kernel mailing list. The response from most of the developers who took part in the discussion was positive, although the announcement did fire a discussion on principles of kernel development.

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