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Linux creator wants to document kernel hacks

Linus Torvalds proposes clearinghouse for code contributions

By Phil Hochmuth, Network World
May 31, 2004 12:06 AM ET

Linus Torvalds wants to tighten up the process for how open source code gets into product-versions of the Linux kernel.

Torvalds recently proposed a change in the development process whereby developers contributing to the Linux kernel source code would have to certify that they are entitled to make the contributions by filling out a Developer's Certificate of Origin so that they can be identified in the future.

There would also be a process for developers to verify the work they do in writing source code patches as well. The Open Source Development Lab, a vendor-neutral organization that promotes open source, would be a potential clearinghouse for the code contributions.

Currently, Linux source code is developed fairly informally on mailing lists, a process where contributions can be included by anyone interested in improving or adding features to the software. No credentials or verification process for contributors exists.

This new process would make it easier for organizations to track where contributions to the Linux source originated. The change in Linux kernel development process would also allow Linux source to be audited more easily, if disputes arise over copyright infringements, such as the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit, where SCO is claming that its proprietary source code was put into Linux by IBM developers.

Another benefit that could result from this move is a better feeling from corporate IT executives about Linux in general. Users who may have been skeptical about Linux due to the SCO legal issues, or just uncertain about the legality of using open source, would have a paper trail showing the origins of the software. 

It's expected to take a few months for the formalization process for Linux source contribution. Linux developers say the processes could be in place in time for the development of the Linux 2.7 kernel.

More on the proposal:
http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=linux-kernel&m=108529494402563&w=2

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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