Linux Kernel Development

Linux Kernel Development

by Abhishek

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Linux kernel and the applications that use it become more widely used, we are seeing an increasing number of system software developers who wish to become involved in the development and maintenance of Linux. Some of these engineers are motivated purely by personal interest, some work for Linux companies, some work for hardware manufacturers, and some are involved with in-house development projects. But all face a common problem:The learning curve for the kernel is getting longer and steeper.The system is becoming increasingly complex, and it is very large.And as the years pass, the current members of the kernel development team gain deeper and broader knowledge of the kernel’s internals, which widens the gap between them and newcomers. I believe that this declining accessibility of the Linux source base is already a problem for the quality of the kernel, and it will become more serious over time.Those who care for Linux clearly have an interest in increasing the number of developers who can contribute to the kernel. One approach to this problem is to keep the code clean: sensible interfaces, consistent layout,“do one thing, do it well,” and so on.This is Linus Torvalds’ solution. The approach that I counsel is to liberally apply commentary to the code: words that the reader can use to understand what the coder intended to achieve at the time. (The process of identifying divergences between the intent and the implementation is known as debugging. It is hard to do this if the intent is not known.) But even code commentary does not provide the broad-sweep view of what a major subsystem is intended to do, and of how its developers set about doing it.This, the starting point of understanding, is what the written word serves best. Robert Love’s contribution provides a means by which experienced developers can gain that essential view of what services the kernel subsystems are supposed to provide, and of how they set about providing them.This will be sufficient knowledge for many people: the curious, the application developers, those who wish to evaluate the kernel’s design, and others.


Chapter 1:   Linux Kernel Development