Published on June 30, 2009
How and Why You Should Become a Kernel Hacker James Morris firstname.lastname@example.org FOSS.IN/2007 – Bengaluru, India
Only Three Essential Requirements ● Genuine interest ● Common sense ● Willing to work hard
Kernel Hacking Myths Myth: Kernel hacking is bizarrely difficult and mysterious. Reality: It’s just software.
Kernel Hacking Myths Myth: Kernel hackers are mutant super geniuses. Reality: There are a few of those, but most are just good engineers.
How – Getting Started ● Dreaded mailing list: lkml ● Books ● Online resources
How – Getting Started ● Learn C ● Become familiar with kernel build environment ● Test and submit bug reports
How – Getting Started ● Fix bugs ● Scratch an itch ● Try many ideas
How – Getting Started ● Get the Basics Right! ● Coding Style ● Patch Submission
How – Getting Started ● Seek Mentors ● Follow Your Interests ● Initial learning curve is steep: be persistent!
How – Technical Tips ● Keep it simple ● Read the code of good programmers ● Review others’ code “I always listen for what I can leave out” -- Miles Davis
How – Technical Tips Study Kernel Primitives ● Locking ● Modes, contexts ● Timers ● Data structures ● Library code
How - Process Tips ● Don’t defend bad code ● Show, don’t tell “Talk is cheap. Show me the code.” -- Linus
How - Process Tips ● Incremental changes ● Small, logically contained patches ● Release early and often ● Respond to feedback
How - Process Tips ● Respect maintainer decisions ● Encourage contributions ● Mentor & delegate
How - Social Tips ● Kernel community is a relic of USENET culture ● Getting flamed is an occupational hazard ● No excuse to do it to others ● Majority are professional
How - Social Tips ● If you find yourself arguing with Alan Cox, you’re probably wrong ● Demonstrate your ideas and politely defend them if needed ● When you’re wrong, admit it and move on
Resources ● “Being a Moron on linux-kernel” ● LWN ● KernelTrap ● Documentation directory ● Online books (“ldd3”) ● The perfect patch ● GIT for kernel hackers ● Kernel Mentors ● Kernel Newbies ● LXR
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