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NewsForge: Unsung heroes: Linux Kernel Janitors

Jun 09, 2001, 22:51 (1 Talkback[s])

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"Managing a free software project of any size is like wrestling an octopus. No matter how strong or smart you are, there's always something else waiting to hit you in the head. Besides coding, you must organize volunteers, delegate tasks, and motivate people to move in new directions. It's no wonder little maintenance issues fall through the cracks. Source files that go untouched for long periods of time succumb to bitrot, and a thousand small changes here and there evolve parts of the code faster than others."

"The Linux kernel is no exception. A huge project involving a wide range of hardware and a rapid development pace, the kernel has several little jobs that can fall under the radar. Finding and fixing these issues takes time and knowledge -- a rare combination. Merging patches from dozens to hundreds of far-flung programmers winnows out plenty of errors, and maintainers occasionally post task lists before a major release. That doesn't mean things automatically get done. Like writing and running tests, updating documentation or old code after a small change can be tedious and thankless."

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