Discussing the latest breakage of the linux-next tree, Stephen Rothwell noted that the problem went unnoticed due to the arm tree not currently being included, "this is why I would have liked you to participate in the linux-next tree ...". Arm maintainer Russell King questioned the usefulness, saying, "linux-next will not give me anything which -mm isn't giving me. As I said in the discussion, linux-next value is _very_ small for me. Sorry but true." Several stepped in to offer some reasons that the linux-next tree is useful.
Andrew Morton noted, "putting arm into linux-next means that Stephen (and git) handle the merges rather than having me (and not-git) do it. Which helps me. I expect that linux-next will get a lot more cross-compilation testing than -mm. Which helps you." Greg KH added, "getting your stuff into linux-next would provide a public place for others to base off of, making it easier for them to send patches to you ensuring that they apply properly. Which in the end, will help others be able to contribute easier, and help you by getting patches you do not need to rebase yourself." Stephen Rothwell summarized the advantages for a maintainer:
"5 times a week your tree gets merged with lots of other code destined for Linus' next release. From this you get to find out about things in other trees that clash with yours. This tree gets built on several architectures for several configs (including arm). So you find out if other trees will break yours. I am happy to build more (basically all) the arm configs as I have offered before."
"Who did the reverse-engineering, and how was it done? Please make us confident that we won't get our butts sued off or something."
Andrew Morton replied to a commit message making 4k stacks the default, saying, "this patch will cause kernels to crash." Ingo Molnar replied, "what mainline kernels crash and how will they crash? Fedora and other distros have had 4K stacks enabled for years." He added, "we've conducted tens of thousands of bootup tests with all sorts of drivers and kernel options enabled and have yet to see a single crash due to 4K stacks." During the lengthy discussion it was suggested that nfs+xfs+raid kernel configurations, and using ndiswrapper are the most common reasons for overflowing a 4K stack size.
Andi Kleen questioned the usefulness of 4k stacks, "as far as I can figure out they are not [a worthy goal]. They might have been a worthy goal on crappy 2.4 VMs, but these times are long gone." Arjan van de Ven suggested that though the 2.6 VM is much improved over the 2.4 VM, fragmentation with 8K stacks remains an unsolvable problem, "it's basic math; the Linux VM gets to deal with both short and long lasting allocations; no matter how hard you try to get some degree of fragmentation; especially due to the 15:1 acceleration you get due to the lowmem issue. And before you say 'you should use 64 bit on such machines'; I would love it if more people used 64 bit linux. Sadly the adoption rate of that is not very good still.... by far ;(" In another email, Arjan listed two advantages to 4K stacks, "1) less memory consumption in the lowmem zone (critical for enterprise use, also good for general performance), and 2) kernel stacks at 8K are one of the most prominent order-1 allocations in the kernel; again with big-memory systems the fragmentation of the lowmem zone is a problem (and the distros that ship 4K stacks went there because of customer complaints)".
A thread on the Linux Kernel mailing list discussed the process in place for reporting, bisecting and fixing bugs. In response to a suggestion that some of the issues could be solved by introducing new procedures, Al Viro retorted, "we've got ourselves a developing beaurocracy. As in 'more and more ways of generating activity without doing anything even remotely useful'. Complete with tendency to operate in the ways that make sense only to bureaucracy in question and an ever-growing set of bylaws..." Later in the thread, David Miller agreed and noted that ,"the resulting 'bureaucracy' or whatever you want to call it is perceived to undercut the very thing that makes the Linux kernel fun to work on. It's still largely free form, loose, and flexible. And that's a notable accomplishment considering how much things have changed. That feeling is why I got involved in the first place, and I know it's what gets other new people in and addicted too."
Andrew Morton tried to return the discussion to its original topic, "the problem we're discussing here is the apparently-large number of bugs which are in the kernel, the apparently-large number of new bugs which we're adding to the kernel, and our apparent tardiness in addressing them." Al noted that some of the problem is that git is so efficient at merging code, "the patches going in during a merge (especially for a tree that collects from secondaries) are not visible enough. And it's too late at that point, since one has to do something monumentally ugly to get Linus revert a large merge. On the scale of Great IDE Mess in 2.5..." Another suggestion was made to replace bugzilla with something better, to which Andrew replied, "swapping out bugzilla for something else wouldn't help. We'd end up with lots of people ignoring a good bug tracking system just like they were ignoring a bad one."
"This is poor old me trying to herd a million mad monkeys, only one escaped."
"It really helps if submitters tell us that a patch fixes another pending patch, and which one that is. Usually I have to ask if I can't work it out. But if a) we weren't told that and b) I have no reason to think it's not a mainline problem and c) the patch applies to mainline and d) the patch affects an architecture which I'm not cross-compiling for, it's going to sneak through.
"We're in include hell, I think."
"Now that we are (presumably) approaching the next merge window, can I ask what use (if any) will you be making of the linux-next tree? Alternatively, is there any information you want from it?" Stephen Rothwell asked regarding the tree he started maintaining last month for tracking upcoming stable merges.
Andrew Morton replied, "afacit it's already working. The level of merge and build errors in the subsystem trees this time around is a tiny fraction of what it was at the same stage in 2.6.24-rcX." He went on to note, "there are 60 or 80 "susbsytem" trees hosted in -mm at present," adding:
"I need to find a way to a) get matureish parts of those trees into linux-next and to b) base the rest of -mm off linux-next. I haven't started thinking about that yet. There seem to be some trees which aren't yet in linux-next, some of them significant."
"`tmp' is an awful identifier, and renaming it to `temp' hardly improves it."
"Andrew [Morton] was looking for someone to run a linux-next tree that just contained the subsystem git and quilt trees for 2.6.x+1 and I (in a moment of madness) volunteered. So, this is to announce the creating of such a tree," began Stephen Rothwell, resulting in a lengthy thread discussing the current Linux kernel development process. In a follow up email announcing the first linux-next release, Stephen went on to explain, "it has two branches - master and stable. Stable is currently just Linus' tree and will never rebase. Master will rebase on an almost daily basis (maybe slower at the start)." He then detailed the master branch:
"The tree consists of subsystem git and quilt trees. Currently, the quilt trees are integrated by importing them into appropriately based git branches and then merging those branches. This has the advantage that any conflict resolution will onlt have to happen once at the merge point rather than, possibly, several times during the series. However, I am considering just applying the quilt trees on top of the current tree to get a result more like Linus' tree - we will see. The git trees are obviously just merged."
One of the goals of the new tree is to get subsystem maintainers more involved in managing merge conflicts by quickly notifying all involved when things break, and automatically dropping the offenders until build problems are fixed. Andrew plans to base his -mm kernel on the new linux-next tree, providing a stabler test branch for code before it's merged into Linus' mainline kernel tree.
"We've gone and made it awfully easy to get code into the kernel nowadays. Perhaps too easy. I'm presently having a little campaign of watching what's going on a bit more closely, and encouraging people to make it easier for others to see what's going on, should they choose to do so."
"Patches like this scare the pants off me."
"It's hard to overemphasise how out-of-balance the economics are here. You saved maybe thirty person-seconds by skipping the review and checkpatch steps. But the cost (if this bug had gone into mainline) would be many many thousands times higher than this."
"Sorry, but I've had it with this stuff and I'm tired of fixing everyone else's stuff. I'm just going to ship it. Good luck."
"I must say that the number of bugs which actually go away when the user stops using nvidia/fglrx/ndiswrapper/etc is a small minority."