Torvalds Sets New Rules for Linux Kernel Development

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a consortium dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Linux in the enterprise, today announced its support for enhancements to the Linux kernel submission process to improve the tracking of contributions to the kernel and ensure developers receive credit for their contributions. Linux creator Linus Torvalds and Linux 2.6 kernel maintainer Andrew Morton said they adopted the revised process after obtaining input and broad support from key kernel subsystem maintainers and others in the open source community.

Under the enhanced kernel submission process, contributions to the Linux kernel may only be made by individuals who acknowledge their right to make the contribution under an appropriate open-source license. The acknowledgement, called the Developer’s Certificate of Origin (DCO), tracks contributions and contributors. The DCO ensures that appropriate attribution is given to developers of original contributions and derivative works, as well to those contributors who receive submissions and pass them, unchanged, up the kernel tree. All contributors are called upon to “sign off” on a submission before it may be considered for inclusion in the kernel.

“This process improvement makes Linux even stronger,” said Linus Torvalds. “We’ve always had transparency, peer review, pride and personal responsibility behind our open source development method. With the DCO, we’re trying to document the process. We want to make it simpler to link submitted code to its contributors. It’s like signing your own work.”

“The Linux development process has worked well for more than 10 years but with its success has come new challenges,” said Stuart Cohen, CEO of OSDL. “The measure we announce today goes a long way toward eliminating doubt surrounding the origin of Linux code, and does so without placing any undue burden on the development community.”

OSDL has committed to providing resources to ensure that contributions made to the kernel adhere to the DCO and the process improvements. The Lab will review the content of the contributions to confirm that submissions to the kernel have been signed off by contributors in accordance with the DCO. In addition, OSDL plans to launch an educational campaign for developers and end users on the DCO and the process improvements.

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