On the Gentoo kernel maintenance front, I’ve been slacking lately. After launching the project, my fingerprint scanning efforts soon started to eat almost all of the time I’m willing to spend in front of a computer. Then comes a busy xmas/new year, quick week in the US, exam revision and now exams; it’s been a few months since I put proper time into the Gentoo kernel front. I’m feeling a little guilty as this inactivity all started at pretty much the same time as when I became the kernel project lead.
Yet, the Gentoo kernel bug list shows only 23 bugs open, plus no critical/widespread unsolved issues at a cursory glance (when I was doing this singlehandedly, I usually had problems keeping this count below 40). This is all thanks to Maarten Bressers, Duane Griffin and Mike Pagano. Unfortunately Maarten is tied up with other issues at the moment, but Duane pops up from time to time and singlehandedly solves some tricky-looking issues and Mike is very active and is doing a fine job keeping things shipshape.
Before getting involved with Gentoo kernel bugs and genpatches maintenance, all 3 of the aforementioned people had no prior involvement with the kernel. One of the things that prompted me to write this post was to get up today and see an IRC conversation, where Mike uses some diagnostic knowledge he’s gained from a Gentoo kernel bug to make a suggestion to another user who is having trouble booting their system (which I am quite confident will solve the issue). Definitive proof that Mike has become a skilled and efficient bug-attacking machine.
If other developers are wondering how I managed to recruit these “newbies” into enthusiastic and productive contributors, my process was as follows:
- Write a maintenance guide giving people enough information to get started
- Encourage the interested respondents to ask lots of questions (I think this is the most important part — be clear that you’re available to be consulted).
- Advertise it in the Gentoo Weekly Newsletter.
- Wait for some questions to come in (and answer them).
All in all, it was quite time consuming to write the initial document and then answering questions, but the fact that I can then be largely inactive for a few months and still have things running smoothly tells me that it was worth the investment.