Thursday, 06 May 2021 08:52

Linux buggy patch affair ends with technical advisory board report

Linux buggy patch affair ends with technical advisory board report Pixabay

The technical advisory board of the Linux Foundation has asked the University of Minnesota to improve the quality of patches it submits to the kernel project and also follow a "best practices" document to be created by the board.

In a detailed report posted to the kernel mailing list, the TAB said: "We have two specific recommendations designed to ensure that the kernel project and UMN can continue to work together successfully in the future:

  • "UMN must improve the quality of the changes that are proposed for inclusion into the kernel, and
  • "The TAB, working with researchers, will create a document explaining best practices for all research groups to follow when working with the kernel (and open-source projects in general).

"The combination of these two changes, we hope, will help the kernel and research communities to work together fruitfully and prevent incidents like this from occurring again."

In its report, the TAB detailed all the patches submitted by UMN, and the whole sequence of events which led to stable kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman slamming a group at UMN who had deliberately submitted buggy patches in order to write a research paper.

One subscriber to the Linux Weekly News website, dvrable, was not very impressed with what Kroah-Hartman had done.

'The introduction [of the TAB report] says 'researchers should trust the developer community will not undermine the researchers' reputations when mistakes are made', but then makes no recommendations to achieve this," he wrote.

"Greg's authoritarian tone ('I will now have to ban all future contributions from your University', which he shouldn't have the power to do so), his presumption that he speaks for all maintainers, and his accusations of unethical research remain unchallenged by this report.

"I think this report should have recommended that maintainers raise possible incidents of inappropriate submissions from researchers with the TAB, rather than going on angry rants and unilaterally deciding to dump a load of extra review work on maintainers."

LWN is run by kernel developer Jonathan Corbet who has been commenting on the issue from the start and also had a role in drafting the TAB report.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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