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Some numbers and thoughts on the stable kernels

Sep 10, 2010, 01:32 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Much attention goes toward mainline kernel releases, but relatively few users are actually running those kernels. Instead, they run kernels provided by their distributors, and those kernels, in turn, are based off the stable kernel series. The practice of releasing stable kernels has been going for well over five years now, so perhaps it's time to look back at how it has been going.

"Back in March 2005, the community was discussing ways of getting important fixes out to users of mainline releases. There was talk of maintaining a separate tree containing nothing but fixes; Linus, at the time, thought that any such attempt was doomed to failure:

"I'll tell you what the problem is: I don't think you'll find anybody to do the parallel "only trivial patches" tree. They'll go crazy in a couple of weeks. Why? Because it's a _damn_ hard problem. Where do you draw the line? What's an acceptable patch? And if you get it wrong, people will complain _very_ loudly, since by now you've "promised" them a kernel that is better than the mainline. In other words: there's almost zero glory, there are no interesting problems, and there will absolutely be people who claim that you're a dick-head and worse, probably on a weekly basis."

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