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What Linux Kernel Maintainers Do and Why They Need Your Help
Everyone uses Linux, and companies are willing to pay to develop it, but maintaining Linux's code? That's another matter.
At the Linux Foundation Members Summit, Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel developer and executive editor of Linux Weekly News, explained where the pain points are for Linux kernel maintainers and why it's getting to be a bit much for all of Linux's cooks.
Indeed, many Linux code maintainers are burning out. Why? There are many reasons. First, though, you need to understand what Linux kernel maintainers actually do.
They're the people who take the code from thousands of developers, check it for errors, make sure there are no regressions, coordinate the code with the patches from other maintainers from further up and down the tree, and finally herd the patches toward the mainline. Oh, and manage backports. That's a lot of work, but it's only the "fun" code part.
Maintainers must also mediate developer disagreements and interact with vendors and users. The latter can range from talking to hardware companies to try to get them to open-source their drivers, and assisting developers on how to build a driver, to helping a user having trouble with his laptop touchpad -- quite possibly because the aforementioned vendor never cooperated when the touchpad driver was first built.