Re: kernel config

Jim Lynch (
Mon, 24 Jul 1995 21:41:30 -0700 (PDT)

-Jim Lynch aka enOne (

On Mon, 24 Jul 1995, Russell Nelson wrote:

> Date: Mon, 24 Jul 1995 02:46:14 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Jim Lynch <>
> > I suspect that this is caused by a lack of submissions. Look at it
> > from Linus's point of view: what could be more safe to incorporate,
> > than a patch which only changes comments. At least, I can't imagine
> > him refusing a comment-only patch, so I guess he hasn't gotten any.
> Great in theory... but I don't understand the kernel.
> Read the code. Write down your understanding of it as comments.
> Submit them as patches. If they're horribly wrong, someone else will
> submit comment-bug-fixes. The only way to accomplish anything is to
> do it yourself, not to exhort and cajole others.

'Scuse me, but I ain't exhorting or cajoling anyone. You say this like I
have the time to do this and 75 other things as well. I don't.

I restate my point here (incase you missed it:) Documenting the kernel is
much more important than documenting the configuration. (besides, as I
recall from reading c.o.l.a, someone already did a kernel config helper.)

Why should I bang my head against the wall reading C source code and trying
to understand it well enough to form english language descriptions, when
the authors _already_ understand it, and could have done the job? That
would be a waste of my time, or it would be something for which I should
get paid.

Writing commentary is not fun as it is, without having to do the
underlying research as well. For me, writing commentary on K&R format
code is impossible, because it is impossible for me to follow without
thouroughly reformatting the code.

> Really... You DON'T NEED to be an expert to be useful and helpful.

I understand that. The point here is: the expertise already exists.
You're right: I don't need to become an expert. The authors already know
the code inside and out. I would only take this on, on any level, if I
_really_ *needed* to understand the innards. Right now, I have some mild
interest, but that's all.

Say... I just had a flash... give the kernel to students in an operating
systems class, and get them to do it. They get experience in doing the
research and writing the comments. They get a grade from their instructor,
and possibly some email from us. Everyone gets the comments. (Any
operating systems teachers out there willing to do this?)

> I'm not an expert on the kernel, yet my kernel change summaries are
> useful. And when they're horribly wrong, someone usually corrects me.

Yes, your summaries are useful. Keep up the good work. Suggestion: Linus
usually releases a kernel channel announcement containing his own summary
(which is a bit terse.) You could key on his announcement message or even
use it to find the changes that were made, and include his points in your
summaries and including further detail below each.