[U-Boot-Users] Changes to U-Boot Development Process

Wolfgang Denk wd at denx.de
Wed Jan 17 22:24:47 CET 2007


many of you know  all  too  well  that  we  have  problems  with  the
development  process  of U-Boot. The biggest problem is that it takes
much too long until new contributed code  finds  it's  way  into  the
public source code repository.

Switching from CVS to git helped a lot on the technical side. It  was
especially  important  as  it also opened the door for organizational
changes, which are urgently needed.

We've been discussion these issues for some time,  and  here  is  our
joint proposal. "We", that is mostly Detlev Zundel, Stefan Roese, and
me  (Wolfgang  Denk).  Of  course  we  also had input form many other

As this mail will propose quite a fundamental change for  the  U-Boot
project, please allow us to introduce it with a few short reflections
on the current state of affairs.

Being a regular reader of this list you will be well aware that  even
with  all the problems in the development process and some ugly areas
in the U-Boot code (like the #ifdef mazes)  there  is  one  important
feature:  that's  the  quality  of  the  U-Boot  code  base  -  being
highlighted quite well by the literal absence of temporary  breakages
in  the  development  code base. This alone allows for the well known
"use the latest code from the repository" answer when someone  enters
the  grounds  of this project for the first time. It is well worth to
reflect on this quality for a little while.

Having done that we may well ask where this quality  comes  from?  We
think  that anybody reading this list only for a limited time will be
able to come up with the answer, namely  the  continuous  maintenance
effort  of  Wolfgang  and  his modus operandi of personally reviewing
nearly each and every contribution in this multi-architecture project
supporting hundreds of boards. It should  be  obvious  how  important
such  a  level  of  code  review  is to keep U-Boot from falling into
disconnected pieces - just think of the effort  to  keep  aspects  of
U-Boot similar across all supported architectures.

But of course even Wolfgang only  has  24  hours  per  day,  and  the
positive  effect  of this maintenance mode has shrunk continuously in
comparison to the downside  of  the  embarassingly  long  backlog  of
patches  posted  on  this  mailing  list  waiting  to  be  processed,
rendering new lines of development very difficult to say the least.

So the time is more than ripe to change this while explicitely trying
to keep the quality of the  project  on  the  high  grounds  that  we
brazenly claim for it :)

Gladly there are other projects in the F/OSS community that are worth
taking a peek at to snatch a hint or two on how we  can  tackle  this

Considering all this we propose a change in  maintaining  the  U-Boot
code base to a model similar to what is currently being done with the
Linux  kernel,  namely  we  would  like  to  establish a community of
"custodian"  maintainers,  responsible   for   certain   sub-systems,
aspects, architectures, or board families of the U-Boot source tree.

We would like to follow the Linux precedent by assembling a  list  of
people  willing  to  invest  time  and  effort into this; the already
existing MAINTAINERS file will serve  a  new  function  to  list  the
individual  custodians with their corresponding area of responsibilty
and contact information.

Each custodian will have to administrate  his  or  her  git  tree  to
streamline transparent development and integration (pulling) into the
"official"  U-Boot repository. If the need should arise (for example,
if a custodian doesn't have convenient means  to  host  it  himself),
DENX will of course be glad to host such trees.

The stated goal of this change of course is to spread the  burden  of
maintaining U-Boot to more shoulders so we can hopefully dramatically
cut  down  on  the  current lag between a patch being proposed on the
mailing list and being processed - be that  accepting,  rejecting  or
openly discussing it with the community.

As you must have realized by now, this cannot  be  done  without  the
community  participating,  so  what  do  you  think of this idea? Any
comments or suggestions?

Of course we should be honest right  upfront  and  state  that  as  a
custodian  you  would  be  fully  responsible  for "your" part of the
U-Boot source tree and it is unfortunately necessary,  that  you  are
able to commit to a certain amount of time and willingness to discuss
topics on the mailing list for this maintenance.

Do we have an immediate line of volunteers raising in the first row?

Skimming through the archives we came up with a list of people  which
the  U-Boot  project  already  is indebted to and probably being good
candidates for custodians. Of course this list cannot  and  does  not
want  to  be  a  "credits"  list  of  all  the valuable people having
contributed, so please don't attribute anything else to it as being a
starting point for this new maintenance mode. Also there are multiple
suggestions where ultimately of course we would like the community to

So with all these precautions in place, here we go:

ARM architecture	Richard Woodruff, Peter Pearse
AVR32 architecture	Haavard Skinnemoen
Blackfin architecture	Aubrey Li
Intel IXP architecture	Stefan Roese
ColdFire architecture	Stefan Roese
Microblaze architecture	Michal Simek
MIPS architecture	Rodolfo Giometti, Andrew Dyer
MPC83xx architecture	Kim Phillips
MPC85xx architecture	Jon Loelinger
MPC86xx architecture	Jon Loelinger
MPC8xx architecture	Wolfgang Denk
NIOS(2)			Scott McNutt
PPC4xx architecture	Stefan Roese

CFI FLASH driver	Tolunay Orkun
NAND FLASH subsystem	Ladislav Michl, Stefan Roese
USB drivers		Markus Klotzbücher

So thanks for bearing with  us  through  this  longwinded  mail  that
hopefully starts to pave the way to a new level of quality and extent
of  the  U-Boot project that is only possibly through its very active
community - you!

Best regards,

Wolfgang Denk, Stefan Roese, Detlev Zundel

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