Linus Torvalds is annoyed with Linux developers' late kernel homework

You know who you are. Stop last-minute submissions; this is not high school.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer


Image: Amanda Lucier for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Linus Torvalds has announced the version 6.1 release candidate for the Linux kernel, and added a stern message to developers: stop submitting code at the last minute. 

This release isn't that big, Torvalds noted, as it only features 11,500 non-merge commits during the merge window, versus 13,500 last time. But he's been dealing with hardware problems while getting the infrastructure set up for developers to use the Rust programming language for updating the kernel. On top of these hardware glitches, he said he was "somewhat frustrated with various late pull requests." 

"I've mentioned this before, but it's _really_ quite annoying to get quite a few pull requests in the last few days of the merge window," wrote Torvalds in his usual Sunday evening update. Work started on Linux 6.1 at the beginning of October. 

"Yes, the merge window is two weeks, but that's very much to allow me time to look things over, not "two weeks to hurriedly put together a branch that you send Linus on Friday of the second week". The whole "do an all-nighter to get the paper in the day before the dealine" is something that should have gone out the window after highschool. Not for kernel development."

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Torvalds was busy patching several serious memory related Wi-Fi security exploits last week, which is why memory-safe Rust is being positioned for new drivers.      

The few core things being introduced in Linux 6.1 are the initial Rust infrastructure and the the multi-generational LRU virtual machine series of patches. He was trying to get that in place for Linux 6.0. Multi-generational LRU improves Linux performance on memory-constrained systems. 

But Torvalds' main request to kernel developers is to prepare their submissions before the merge window opens rather than during. 

"With some slack for 'life happens', of course, but I really get the feeling that a few people treat the end of the merge window as a deadline, missing the whole 'it was supposed to be ready before the merge window'."

He added: "You know who you are."

There should be six or seven more release candidates before the final 6.1 version is released, which should be in December. This makes 6.1 the likely candidate for the 2022 Long-Term Support kernel release. Earlier this month, Linux stable maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman said he usually picks the last kernel of the year to be the LTS. Since 6.1 will land in December, it probably will be that one.

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