Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-kernel (77 mails)

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[opensuse-kernel] Hardware enablement in kernel updates
  • From: Jeff Mahoney <jeffm@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 14 Dec 2009 20:09:59 -0500
  • Message-id: <4B26E1E7.3060605@xxxxxxxx>
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Hi all -

Some of you have seen my posts on this list before, but it may not be
clear what my involvement is with kernel development. I lead one of the
kernel teams in SUSE Labs. I maintain the master branch of the SUSE
kernel trees (both SLE and openSUSE) and have been the release manager
for the kernel for the past few openSUSE releases (as well as a few
enterprise releases). Historically, some decisions have been made that
affect the openSUSE kernel collaboratively, but not entirely
transparently, and I'd like to change that.

One of our policies regarding kernel updates is that we'll fix bugs
pertaining to usability until the next release. Otherwise, it's
security, data loss/corruption, and system crash fixes until EOL. While
it could be argued that hardware enablement falls under usability, we
haven't treated it that way in the past. I'd like to revisit that.

I was asked today about the possibility of adding a driver to the 11.2
kernel, and I started thinking about it. Strictly speaking, it's
against our inclusion policy. However, the new longer release cycle
means that users with new hardware may be forced to run a Factory kernel
on 11.2, switch to a different distribution, or wait around until the
next release.

While I don't personally have a problem with option #1, I'm a kernel
hacker and kernel bugs don't scare me. Not everyone wants to be a beta
tester. Option #2 isn't in the long-term interests of the openSUSE
community. Option #3 is painful because it means that you have this
shiny new hardware for which you've paid your hard-earned money and
can't use to its fullest potential.

The particular driver I was asked about is completely standalone. I
don't have a problem including it since it won't affect anything else.
The issue was that I don't want to encourage the expectation that this
would be a normal occurrence - unless we want to change the policy
surrounding updates.

I should be clear on what I have in mind and what the limitations are. I
do not intend to open the door for every crap driver that's floating
around out there. There are reasons that the drivers aren't in the
mainline kernel and I have no interest in duplicating that debate on
this list. Drivers up for post-release inclusion _must_ be already in
the mainline kernel. The other limitation is that the changes be
completely standalone or isolated such that it's apparent that the
introduction of the change doesn't affect the stability of users who are
using those drivers already. That part can get sticky since adding a PCI
ID is easy, but adding handling that is needed to enable that PCI ID
while potentially affecting other devices in a clean way is not.

So with that, I'd like to open it up for discussion. I've cross-posted
between opensuse-factory and opensuse-kernel since it's a policy that
affects everyone, not just those interested in the kernel itself.

- -Jeff

- --
Jeff Mahoney
SUSE Labs
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