Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Is it good that senior Linux kernel contributors are doing more managing than coding?

In a recent LinuxWorld article about Greg Kroah-Hartman's keynote at OLS this year, he spoke about how more of his time is spent reviewing code as opposed to producing it. Greg goes on to mention that in the latest kernel release, the 30 most active kernel developers only contributed about 30% of the code, while the 20 most active kernel developers contributed 80% of the code just two years ago. So, through this maturation process in Linux kernel development, is this good for overall Linux kernel development?

On the plus side, you have the most experienced kernel developers doing code review, so the code should be solid once it is officially integrated into one of the mainline kernel trees. Perhaps on the downside, with the experience that these kernel developers have, would they have been able produce the high quality code in a more efficient manner? I of course do not know the answer to that question, but it is something to ponder.

As the kernel matures and the organizational chart of Linux kernel development starts to look more like a corporation's organizational chart, it is very interesting to watch this transition. It sure starts to mirror the career decisions that developers are forced to make at one point or another in their career. They reach that "fork in the road" per se, and the decision has to be made as to whether or not they go the management route or stay in a development role. This appears to be the decision that is forced upon these well known kernel developers, and it will be interesting to see which ones take which path.

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