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Linux Kernel Mentorship Program - Write First Kernel Patch

This material in this guide is based on the KernelNewbies FirstKernelPatch tutorial.

Let's start by configuring global git options and then you can go onto cloning the kernel repository.

Setup git

Create a user-specific Git configuration file named .gitconfig in your home directory with your name, email, and other configuration. This information is used for commits and patch generation.

   name = Your Name
   email =
	signoff = true
	editor = vi

	smtpserver     =
	smtpserverport = portnum
	smtpencryption = tls
	smtpuser       = user
	smtppass       = password

The email in the .gitconfig should be the same email you will use to send patches. The “name” is the “Author” name and the email is the email address for the commit. The Linux kernel developers will not accept a patch where the “From” email differs from the “Signed-off-by” line, which is what will happen if these two emails do not match.

Make sure you store your full, legal name in the name line. By adding your Signed-off-by line to a patch, you are certifying that you have read and understood the Developer's Certificate of Origin and abide by the Linux Kernel Enforcement Statement. Please read though the documents before you send patches to the kernel.

Explore the kernel tree

First, open a terminal, by clicking the black screen icon with the “>_” text in it.

Tip: You can exit out of a terminal tab or window by pressing “<CTRL>d” at any time. This is the recommended way of closing the terminal, since it won't kill any processes you have running in the background. Get used to exiting the terminal this way by opening and closing the terminal a couple times.

Clone mainline git repository and please first.

mkdir mypatches
cd mypatches
git clone git:// staging
cd staging

This is the Linux kernel tree. You can explore it by using the “ls” and “cd” commands. If you run “ls”, you'll see several different folders:

$ ls
arch     CREDITS        fs       Kbuild   LICENSES     net      security  virt
block    crypto         include  Kconfig  MAINTAINERS  README   sound
certs    Documentation  init     kernel   Makefile     samples  tools
COPYING  drivers        ipc      lib      mm           scripts  usr

There's more to this directory than meets the eye! If you run “ls -A”, you'll see there's a hidden directory called “.git”. This contains all the meta information that git uses to track branches, remote repositories, and changes to files in the local directory.

arch           Documentation           init      MAINTAINERS  sound
block          drivers                 ipc       Makefile     tools
certs          fs                      Kbuild    mm           usr
.clang-format  .get_maintainer.ignore  Kconfig   net          virt
.cocciconfig   .git                    kernel    README
COPYING        .gitattributes          lib       samples
CREDITS        .gitignore              LICENSES  scripts
crypto         include                 .mailmap  security

You can view the commit history by running git log. The following example uses “git log -2” to look at the top two commits to illustrate the difference between full commit log vs. the short log.

$ git log -2
commit 79a3aaa7b82e3106be97842dedfd8429248896e6 (HEAD -> master, tag: v5.1-rc3, origin/master, origin/HEAD)
Author: Linus Torvalds <>
Date:   Sun Mar 31 14:39:29 2019 -0700

    Linux 5.1-rc3

commit 63fc9c23488d6cf34e4c233e24ba59b7e5548412
Merge: 915ee0da5ecb 690edec54cba
Author: Linus Torvalds <>
Date:   Sun Mar 31 08:55:59 2019 -0700

    Merge tag 'for-linus' of git://
    Pull KVM fixes from Paolo Bonzini:
     "A collection of x86 and ARM bugfixes, and some improvements to
      On top of this, a cleanup of kvm_para.h headers, which were exported
      by some architectures even though they not support KVM at all. This is
      responsible for all the Kbuild changes in the diffstat"
    * tag 'for-linus' of git:// (28 commits)
      Documentation: kvm: clarify KVM_SET_USER_MEMORY_REGION
      KVM: doc: Document the life cycle of a VM and its resources
      KVM: selftests: complete IO before migrating guest state
      KVM: selftests: disable stack protector for all KVM tests
      KVM: selftests: explicitly disable PIE for tests
      KVM: selftests: assert on exit reason in CR4/cpuid sync test
      KVM: x86: update %rip after emulating IO
      x86/kvm/hyper-v: avoid spurious pending stimer on vCPU init
      kvm/x86: Move MSR_IA32_ARCH_CAPABILITIES to array emulated_msrs
      KVM: x86: Emulate MSR_IA32_ARCH_CAPABILITIES on AMD hosts
      kvm: don't redefine flags as something else
      kvm: mmu: Used range based flushing in slot_handle_level_range
      KVM: export <linux/kvm_para.h> and <asm/kvm_para.h> iif KVM is supported
      KVM: x86: remove check on nr_mmu_pages in kvm_arch_commit_memory_region()
      kvm: nVMX: Add a vmentry check for HOST_SYSENTER_ESP and HOST_SYSENTER_EIP fields
      KVM: SVM: Workaround errata#1096 (insn_len maybe zero on SMAP violation)
      KVM: Reject device ioctls from processes other than the VM's creator
      KVM: doc: Fix incorrect word ordering regarding supported use of APIs
      KVM: x86: fix handling of role.cr4_pae and rename it to 'gpte_size'
      KVM: nVMX: Do not inherit quadrant and invalid for the root shadow EPT

If you want a more compact form, you can run a command to see just the “short description” for each commit, with an abbreviated git commit ID:

$ git log -2 --pretty=oneline --abbrev-commit
79a3aaa7b82e (HEAD -> master, tag: v5.1-rc3, origin/master, origin/HEAD) Linux 5.1-rc3
63fc9c23488d Merge tag 'for-linus' of git://

Play with some git basics

Git is a distributed revision control system, which means you can hack on your version of the code without having to coordinate with other developers. Think of your git checkout as a separate copy of the kernel repository.

Git includes support for branches. Each branch can contain a completely different set of patches. Kernel developers typically use one branch per patch set. For example, you might have one branch that includes bug fixes, and another branch that contains commits for a new feature you're working on.

You can run “git branch” to see which branch you're on:

$ git branch
* master

In this case, there is only one branch, called master. The star indicates that the “master” branch is the one you are currently on. In git speak, we say that you currently have the master branch “checked out”.

You can also use the git branch command to show branches on the staging remote repository. Run the “git branch -a” command:

$ git branch -a
* master
  remotes/origin/HEAD -> origin/master

The first remote repository that is used to create the git checkout is called “origin”. For now, just remember that “origin” means Greg Kroah-Hartman's staging git repository. Here, you can see the staging remote has five branches: master, staging-linus, staging-next, staging-testing, and test. The staging-linus branch contains bug fix patches for the current kernel release candidate, and the staging-next branch contains patches for the next kernel release. Your patches will all go into staging-testing (since they will be code clean up, not bug fixes), so you want to base all your branches on the staging-testing branch. Greg first applies patches to staging-testing. They are moved to staging-next shortly thereafter.

Let's checkout staging-testing

$ git checkout staging-testing
Branch 'staging-testing' set up to track remote branch 'staging-testing' from 'origin'.
Switched to a new branch 'staging-testing'

Now if you run git branch, you'll see that there are two branches, and you are currently on the “staging-testing” branch:

git branch
* staging-testing

Create a new branch called 'first-patch', and checkout that branch by running:

$ git checkout -b first-patch
Switched to a new branch 'first-patch'

Now if you run git branch, you'll see that there are three branches, and you are currently on the “first-patch” branch:

$ git branch
* first-patch

The first commit in the first-branch based on staging-testing is:

git log -1 --pretty=oneline --abbrev-commit
932f98922f6f (HEAD -> first-patch, origin/staging-testing, origin/staging-next, staging-testing) Merge tag 'iio-for-5.2a-2' of git:// into staging-next

Update your kernel

When you create your first application clean-up patches, you want to create them on top of the latest commit from the staging-testing tree. If your patch is out-of-date and doesn't apply to the latest tree, it may be rejected. You'll need to use git to fetch the latest changes:

$ git fetch origin

The third word in that command is the name of the remote repository you are fetching from. In this case, it's origin, which is the remote repository we initially cloned from (the staging repository).

That command will fetch the changes from the remote, but it won't actually change in files in the working copy (i.e. the files in this directory). If you run:

$ git log
git log -1 --pretty=oneline --abbrev-commit
932f98922f6f (HEAD -> first-patch, origin/staging-testing, origin/staging-next, staging-testing) Merge tag 'iio-for-5.2a-2' of git:// into staging-next

You will see that your current working directory still points to the original commit. So where are the staging tree current changes?

The answer is that git stores the changes in a special hidden directory called .git. You can view the history of the staging repository by giving git log the “staging-testing” branch of the “origin” remote repository:

git log origin/staging-testing

Next, we need to update our branch to include the changes in the staging tree. The safest way to do this is to “rebase” your branch. This means that if you have any commits on your branch, they will be placed on top of the staging tree commits. Sometimes you may have to edit your commits if there are conflicts, but you should ask your mentor for help with this. For now, run:

$ git rebase origin/staging-testing

If you run “git log” to show your staging branch history and then “git log origin/staging-testing” to show the staging-testing branch history, you should see that they have exactly the same commits.

Configure the kernel

The next step is to create a configuration file, compile the new kernel, and install it.

The first thing to know is that the Linux kernel is completely configurable. Each driver can be separately configured to be installed or not. There are three choices for driver installation:

  • disable the driver completely,
  • build the driver into the main kernel file (vmlinux),
  • or build it as a module.

If you build the driver into the main kernel file, it will be loaded at boot time. The downside is that the kernel will have to load more code at boot for drivers that may not even correspond to hardware on the system. To avoid this, kernel developers often compile drivers as “modules”. A module is a stand-alone .ko driver file that is loaded when the kernel detects hardware that matches the driver. For example, you could configure your wifi driver as a module, and the kernel will load it when it detects the wifi card.

The Linux kernel make system uses a special file called .config that stores what drivers are compiled in, or compiled as modules. Most Linux distributions store the .config file they used to compile your distro kernel in the /boot/ directory:

$ ls /boot
config-4.18.0-15-generic      memtest86+.bin
config-4.18.0-16-generic      memtest86+.elf
config-4.18.0-17-generic      memtest86+_multiboot.bin
initrd.img-4.18.0-16-generic  vmlinuz-4.18.0-15-generic
initrd.img-4.18.0-17-generic  vmlinuz-4.18.0-16-generic
lost+found                    vmlinuz-4.18.0-17-generic

You can duplicate the distro's configuration by copying one of the config-* files to a .config file in your git tree.

You can read more about configuring a kernel here.

Compile the kernel

Next, you'll need to run “make” to compile your new kernel. Optionally, make can take a flag that indicates how many threads to spawn to start separate compilations. Usually you want to pick a number that is equal to the number of CPUs you have in your machine. For example, if you had a dual core system, you would run:

make -j2

That may take a while. While you waiting, please read the Linux Device Drivers book to get ready for the next step.

Make a driver change

These next couple of steps will allow you to make a change to a driver, and test that you've correctly compiled and installed the modified driver.

Modifying a driver on native Linux

Your native Linux system will have many different drivers. Find out which drivers are loaded on your system, and modify one of them.

First, use “lsmod” to see what drivers are loaded, and pick a name from that list to modify. This example shows making changes to uvcvideo.

Once you have the name of a driver, it's time to find out where the .c and .h files for that driver are in the Linux kernel repository. You can do that by searching through the Makefiles to find out what C files are compiled into the driver binary. The best way to do that is with “git grep”. Unlike normal grep, git grep only searches through checked-in files in the repository. Normal grep will also search the binary files, and even the .git directory, which isn't useful and wastes your time.

For example, if you wanted to search for the files that are compiled into the uvcvideo driver, you would run this command:

$ git grep uvcvideo -- '*Makefile'
drivers/media/usb/uvc/Makefile:uvcvideo-objs  := uvc_driver.o uvc_queue.o uvc_v4l2.o uvc_video.o uvc_ctrl.o \
drivers/media/usb/uvc/Makefile:uvcvideo-objs  += uvc_entity.o
drivers/media/usb/uvc/Makefile:obj-$(CONFIG_USB_VIDEO_CLASS) += uvcvideo.o

uvcvideo is a media usb driver.

ls drivers/media/usb/uvc/
Kconfig     uvc_debugfs.c  uvc_isight.c    uvc_status.c  uvcvideo.h
Makefile    uvc_driver.c   uvc_metadata.c  uvc_v4l2.c
uvc_ctrl.c  uvc_entity.c   uvc_queue.c     uvc_video.c

Once you've identified the files for your driver, let's make a small change to the probe function of the uvcvideo driver. A probe function is called when the driver is loaded. Let's edit uvc_driver.c:

vim drivers/media/usb/uvc/uvc_driver.c

Find the probe function by searching for _probe text by typing '/' in standard mode. Once you've found the probe function, add pr_info() to it:

static int uvc_probe(struct usb_interface *intf,
                     const struct usb_device_id *id)
        struct usb_device *udev = interface_to_usbdev(intf);
        struct uvc_device *dev;
        const struct uvc_device_info *info =
                (const struct uvc_device_info *)id->driver_info;
        int function;
        int ret;

        pr_info("I changed uvcvideo driver in the Linux Kernel\n");
        if (id->idVendor && id->idProduct)
                uvc_trace(UVC_TRACE_PROBE, "Probing known UVC device %s "
                                "(%04x:%04x)\n", udev->devpath, id->idVendor,
                uvc_trace(UVC_TRACE_PROBE, "Probing generic UVC device %s\n",

Then type :wq<enter> to save the file and quit.

A pr_info() function causes a message to be written to the kernel log buffer, which can then be viewed using the “dmesg” command.

Now edit drivers/media/usb/uvc/uvc_video.c, find the _prove function and add a pr_info() to it.

vim drivers/media/usb/uvc/uvc_video.c
int uvc_probe_video(struct uvc_streaming *stream,
        struct uvc_streaming_control *probe)
        struct uvc_streaming_control probe_min, probe_max;
        u16 bandwidth;
        unsigned int i;
        int ret;

        pr_info("I changed uvcvideo driver in the Linux Kernel\n");

        /* Perform probing. The device should adjust the requested values
         * according to its capabilities. However, some devices, namely the
         * first generation UVC Logitech webcams, don't implement the Video
         * Probe control properly, and just return the needed bandwidth. For
         * that reason, if the needed bandwidth exceeds the maximum available
         * bandwidth, try to lower the quality.
        ret = uvc_set_video_ctrl(stream, probe, 1);
        if (ret < 0)
                goto done;

Then type :wq<enter> to save the file and quit.

A pr_info() function causes a message to be written to the kernel log buffer, which can then be viewed using the “dmesg” command.

Compile your changes

Recompile your kernel, by running make (with an optional -jN flag):

make -j2

You may need to fix some compilation errors. Also fix any new warnings that are due to your changes. In the Linux kernel, we strive to make sure that drivers do not produce warnings on anyone's system (this includes 32-bit and 64-bit systems, as well as different architectures, such as PPC, ARM, or x86). New features or bug fix patches that add additional warnings may not get merged. Please read the Linux Kernel patch submission checklist to understand what Linux kernel maintainers expect patch authors to do before sending the patch.

Install your changes

After you've compiled the driver, you need to install your changes by running:

sudo make modules_install install

Test your changes

Since you've compiled a completely new kernel, you need to reboot into that new kernel in order to test your module changes. Reboot your system, and then run:

dmesg | less

Search for your pr_info in the log file by typing “/I changed”. You should be able to find this message within the driver output during boot. If you don't see this message, ask for help on the #linux-kernel-mentees IRC Channel on freenode, or on the linux-kernel-mentees mailing list

Revert your changes

Since that was just a simple test, and you probably don't want to commit that change, you can revert your changes.

git reset --hard HEAD

That will revert ALL FILES in your current working directory to the last known commit (the HEAD commit), wiping out all your uncommitted changes. Read the git reset manual for more information on ways to reset the state for specific files.

Start creating your first patch

Next, you'll get to do some useful modifications to the kernel, create your first git commit, and send out your first patch. Before you make your first commit using git, you'll need to do some setup.

Git post-commit hooks

Git includes some “hooks” for scripts that can be run before or after specific git commands are executed. The “post-commit” hook is run after you make a git commit with the “git commit” command.

Linux kernel developers follow Linux kernel coding style. Once you made changes, you can run that you can run over your patches to make sure the patch complies with the kernel coding style.

To ensure that you create good commits that comply with the coding style, you can run over your commit with the “post-commit” hook. Note that running checkpatch after the commit, checks the patch file you've created - not just the source code diff. Therefore it will catch more issues - spelling errors in log messages, spacing in log messages, warnings about adding/removing files, etc.

If you already have a .git/hooks/post-commit file, move it to .git/hooks/post-commit.sample. git will not execute files with the .sample extension.

Then edit the .git/hooks/post-commit file to contain only the following two lines:

exec git show --format=email HEAD | ./scripts/ --strict --codespell

Make sure the file is executable:

chmod a+x .git/hooks/post-commit

If you don't already have /usr/share/codespell/dictionary.txt, get it:

apt-get install codespell

After you commit, this hook will output any checkpatch errors or warnings that your patch creates. If you see warnings or errors that you know you added, you can amend the commit by changing the file, using “git add” to add the changes, and then using “git commit –amend” to commit the changes.

Checking that the post-commit hook works

You can check that the post-commit hook is working by adding a deliberate change that will trigger checkpatch (such as adding a really long line or adding trailing whitespace to a line), and then attempting to run “git commit”. After you commit, you should see the additional warning or error.

Note that you will need to place this hook in any/every tree in which you build patches.

If your post-commit hook is not working, please ask for help on IRC.

Understand patch best practices

Before you create your patch, you need to understand how to create good patches. Otherwise your patches will be less likely to be accepted by maintainers, and you will have to go through more revisions than necessary.

The Submitting patches: the essential guide to getting your code into the kernel is a collection of suggestions which can greatly increase the chances of your change being accepted. A guide to the Kernel Development Process is a comprehensive guide to all aspects of the kernel development process.

Note that might suggest changes that are unnecessary! Use your best judgement when deciding whether it makes sense to make the change suggests. The end goal is for the code to be more readable. If suggests a change and you think the end result is not more readable, don't make the change. For example, if a line is 81 characters long, but breaking it makes the resulting code look ugly, don't break that line.

Find a driver to clean up

The staging tree, in drivers/staging/ is full of drivers that are not quite up to kernel coding style, or that use deprecated API. Drivers get placed here in order to get cleaned up. Some drivers have a TODO file in their parent directory, that lists things that need to be done to it:

find drivers/staging -name TODO

You can either tackle one of those TODO items, or you can do a simple coding style cleanup.

drivers/staging contains both drivers that are on their way into the kernel and those that are on their way out of the kernel. It would be better to avoid working on the latter.


If you pick a driver in staging, you can run the script that checks whether a file conforms to kernel coding style:

perl scripts/ -f drivers/staging/android/* | less

Pick a warning, and try to fix it. For your first patch, only pick one warning. In the future you can group multiple changes into one patch after reading the Patch preparation and understanding how to break a patch into logical changes.

Note that there is a lot of variation in the warnings generated by checkpatch. Sometimes the code is clearly not ideal and the fix is obvious. Other cases might be a matter of personal preference, or might require specialized knowledge about the code to make the correct change. It may be helpful to look back at old messages on the mailing list, to see if a similar change has been rejected, and why.

Please avoid sending patches for the Licence related warnings. It requires lot more discussion by driver authors and companies before doing so and is not often preferred by maintainers to accept them when sent by newbies.

Recompiling the driver

You'll need to make sure the driver you're changing is configured as a module. Run:

make menuconfig

This opens up a text-based GUI that allows you to explore the configuration options.

Use the arrow keys to go to Device Drivers → and hit <enter>. Then go down to Staging drivers. At any time, you can hit '?', which will show you the help text for that kernel configuration option. You can search for the driver you're modifying by '/', in order to get the driver's longer name. Make sure the driver you're working on is compiled as a module ('M'), instead of being built-in ('*'). You can change a driver to being compiled as a module by typing 'm' when the driver is selected in the menu. Hitting <enter> will change the driver to being built-in.

Once you've enabled the driver you're modifying, use <tab> or the right arrow key to move the cursor from 'Select' to 'Exit' and hit <enter>. Continue to do this until you get to the main menu. When it asks you to save your configuration, chose 'Yes'.

Then recompile the kernel with:

make -j2

You should reboot your kernel, load the driver with “modprobe”. You'll be able to see that the driver is loaded by running “lsmod”. Loading the driver at least makes sure that the driver probe function works.

Note: Do not work on drivers that show that they depend on CONFIG_BROKEN. If you search for a driver after running “make menuconfig”, and you notice the “Depends on:” line includes BROKEN, do not work on this driver.

Compiling only part of the kernel

There are several ways to compile only part of the kernel:

* make path/file.o: This compiles only a single file. It may not be sufficient to check changes that affect interactions with other files. It is possible to build files that are disabled in .config this way, but that can fail in some cases, e.g. when the file includes architecture-specific headers.

* make path, e.g. make drivers/staging: This always succeeds. It does nothing at all because the directory exists.

* make path/, e.g. make drivers/staging/: This descends into that directory to build all the files in it, but does not try to link the modules.

* make M=drivers/staging: This seems to try to link the modules in a previously build vmlinux file. After changing options in .config or rebasing on a newer git tree, this can fail unless all other files are built once using make -j2.

Make path/ could be a reasonable choice for a localized change within a single driver, or for a change localized to drivers staging. In any case, as a minimum always check that compilation produces a .o file for every file that your patch changes. If there is no .o file, you have not compiled the file, and you need to look for other compiler options.

Driver dependencies

Sometimes it's hard to find your driver. Maybe you searched for the CONFIG option, but you can't find it in the menus where it should be. This may be because a driver or subsystem it depends on is not enabled, and so this driver is hidden from the menu. You need to enable all the dependencies in order to make the menu option visible, and then you can enable the driver you're modifying.

For example, say I was modifying drivers/usb/host/xhci-ring.c. If I look in the Kconfig file in the parent directory (drivers/usb/host/Kconfig), I can see an option for the xHCI driver:

         tristate "xHCI HCD (USB 3.0) support"
         depends on USB && USB_ARCH_HAS_XHCI
           The eXtensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) is standard for USB 3.0
           "SuperSpeed" host controller hardware.

           To compile this driver as a module, choose M here: the
           module will be called xhci-hcd.

Now, I run “make menuconfig” and type “/” to search for USB_XHCI_HCD. The search entry shows:

Symbol: USB_XHCI_HCD [=m]
 Type  : tristate
 Prompt: xHCI HCD (USB 3.0) support
    -> Device Drivers
 (1)   -> USB support (USB_SUPPORT [=y]
   Defined at drivers/usb/host/Kconfig:20
   Depends on: USB_SUPPORT [=y] && USB [=n] && USB_ARCH_HAS_XHCI [=y])

Look at the “Depends on” line. This is a boolean equation that represents the driver dependencies that need to be enabled in order to even show the driver option in the menus. A 'y' means the driver or subsystem is built into the kernel and an 'm' means the driver is built as a module. Both these options are equivalent to '1' in boolean logic. A 'n' means the driver or subsystem is disabled. An 'n' is equivalent to a '0' in boolean logic.

Tip: If you don't know boolean logic, you can take a look at these tutorials. If you just need a brush up on boolean logic, here's a crib sheet. If you're lazy, here's a boolean algebra calculator, or you can use the “Programming Mode” for the calculator application installed in Ubuntu by default.

In this case, the xHCI driver config option is not being shown in the menus because USB is set to 'n'. If I search for USB, I see lots of results, and finally find this relevant one:

Symbol: USB [=n]  
 Type  : tristate
 Prompt: Support for Host-side USB
     -> Device Drivers
 (1)   -> USB support (USB_SUPPORT [=n]) 
   Defined at drivers/usb/Kconfig:51
   Depends on: USB_SUPPORT [=n] && USB_ARCH_HAS_HCD [=n]

If I look under the Device Drivers menu, I can find “USB Support” and set it to 'm'. Once that's done, I can find CONFIG_XHCI_HCD under the “USB Support” menu.

It may take recursively enabling several different configuration options before you can even see your driver in the menu. Ask for help if you're stuck.

Note: Do not work on drivers that show that they depend on CONFIG_BROKEN. If you search for a driver after running “make menuconfig”, and you notice the “Depends on:” line includes BROKEN, do not work on this driver.

Please read Kconfig Language for details.

Reloading modules

If you're running a kernel that has the same release version (uname -r) as the new code you're compiling, you can test your changes without rebooting. Simply install the module in /lib/modules, and unload and reload the driver:

make -j2 && sudo make modules_install
sudo modprobe -r <module_name>
sudo modprobe <module_name>

How do you know what the module name is? If you've compiled the driver as a module, there should be a .ko file in the parent directory. For example, after we configure the android driver to be compiled as a module, we can run this command:

$ ls drivers/staging/android/*.ko
 drivers/staging/android/alarm-dev.ko  drivers/staging/android/logger.ko

So, there are two drivers that we need to load with modprobe. You can load those drivers one at a time by passing modprobe the base filename:

sudo modprobe alarm-dev

To ensure the driver got loaded, you can run:

lsmod | less

Committing your changes

In this example, assume we've addressed a warning in the android driver, modified the file, recompiled the driver, and tested our changes.

Viewing your changes

Git keeps track of changes in the working directory. Git can be told to ignore binary files (like .o or .ko files), so it won't track changes to those files. You can see which files have been modified by running:

git status

git can also show you a diff stat of what changed:

git diff

Commit your changes

Assuming we want to include all of our changes in one git commit, you can use git to add the changed file to the list of changes to be committed (the “staging area”):

git add <file>

If you run “git diff” again, you'll notice it doesn't list any changed files. That's because, by default, git diff only shows you the unstaged changes. If you run this command instead, you'll see the staged changes:

git diff --cached

That command will show you the changes to be committed.

Reverting your staged changes

If you don't want to commit those changes, you can remove those changes from the staging area by running:

git reset <file>

Committing parts of files

You can also add parts of files to the staging area by using the following flag:

git add -p

That will allow you to add hunks of the file to the staging area, or even edit hunks that you want to commit. This is useful, for instance, if you've made whitespace changes, and also made a camel-case variable name fix, but those changes are on the same line. You can edit the line to revert the camel-case name change, and just add the whitespace change to the staging area. Then when you commit, you will just be committing the whitespace change.

Committing changes

Finally, you can commit your staged changes:

<coce> git commit -s -v </code}

That will add the Signed-off-by line that is needed at the end of your patch description. The -v flag will show you the diff that you're committing. This is very useful to decide whether you are committing the correct code.

Please follow the Submitting patches: the essential guide to getting your code into the kernel guidelines when you create a patch. Make sure to include a blank line between your short description (what will become the Subject line of your patch) and the body of your patch. Make sure there is a blank line between the body of your patch and your Signed-off-by line.

Editing your commits

If you should need to edit your commits, please see the "Editing commits" and "Editing patchsets" sections.

Viewing your commit

Make sure your commit looks fine by running these commands:

git show HEAD

This will show the latest commit. If you want git to show a different commit, you can pass the commit ID (the long number that's shown in “git log”, or the short number that's shown in “git log –pretty=oneline –abbrev-commit”. Read the “Specifying Revisions section” of the “git rev-parse” manual page for more details on what you can in place of a commit ID.

You'll also want to make sure your commit looks fine when you run these two commands:

git log
git log --pretty=oneline --abbrev-commit

Submit a patch

When you are ready to send your patch, you will have to determine whom to send the patch to. Select the recipients for your patch walks you though the process.

$ git show --pretty=oneline --abbrev-commit HEAD
cb9a537 staging: most: constify snd_pcm_ops structure
diff --git a/drivers/staging/most/aim-sound/sound.c b/drivers/staging/most/aim-s
index 9c64580..21fa0df 100644
--- a/drivers/staging/most/aim-sound/sound.c
+++ b/drivers/staging/most/aim-sound/sound.c
@@ -457,7 +457,7 @@ static snd_pcm_uframes_t pcm_pointer(struct snd_pcm_substrea
  * Initialization of struct snd_pcm_ops
-static struct snd_pcm_ops pcm_ops = {
+static const struct snd_pcm_ops pcm_ops = {
        .open       = pcm_open,
        .close      = pcm_close,
        .ioctl      = snd_pcm_lib_ioctl,

$ git show HEAD | perl scripts/ --separator , --nokeywords --nogit --nogit-fallback --norolestats --nol
Greg Kroah-Hartman <>,,
$ perl scripts/ --separator , --nokeywords --nogit --nogit-fallback --norolestats --nol -f drivers/staging/most/aim-sound/sound.c
Greg Kroah-Hartman <>

The many arguments to cause the output to be in the form of a comma-separated list and cause only the actual maintainers of the affected files to be included. However, for IIO drivers, please also include On the other hand, the maintainers of staging/vc04_services would prefer not to be CCd on Linux Kernel Mentorship patches. Please CC Greg explicitly on these patches: Greg KH More generally, for non-Linux Kernel Mentorship patches, drop the -nol argument, to include mailing lists.

The second step to submitting a patch is to create and send a patch as an email. You cannot send patches as attachments to the mailing list. Instead, you will have to craft a special email, and send the patch inline. Please follow No MIME, no links, no compression, no attachments. Just plain text guidelines.

Use git send-email to send patches. Please send the patch to yourself and/or a friend to test your setup.

Sending patches with git send-email

You can also send a patch with the command-line tool “git send-email”. You can either pass it the file that “git format-patch” generated, or you can give it the same commit ID range you gave “git format-patch”:

git send-email --annotate HEAD^

You should already have all the information in your .gitconfig at the beginning in Setup git section of this document.

git send email will prompt you with who to send the message to, and other odd questions:

Who should the emails be sent to (if any)?
Message-ID to be used as In-Reply-To for the first email (if any)?

Put in your mentor's address in the first line, and leave the second blank unless you want it to appear as a thread in an existing conversation.

At this point “git send-email” will look for Cc: lines in your commit message, and include them in the email headers. It will then show you the resulting email header, and ask you to confirm:

Send this email? ([y]es|[n]o|[q]uit|[a]ll):

More help with git send-email

More comprehensive documentation, with help for those who use gmail

Send with 'y' (or 'a': git send-email can be used to send multiple commits at once).

Tips and Tricks

Please read the patch tips and tricks page for an explanation of patch tags (e.g. Reviewed-by and Signed-off-by), and when to use [PATCH] vs. [RFC] in your patch subject prefix.

Send your patch to your mentors

Once you've send your patch to your own email, and ensured that it looks fine, it's time to send your patch off.

Send your patch to the maintainer and lists that the script tells you to.

Please send you patch to linux-kernel-mentees mailing list

Responding to emails

When responding to emails on the mailing list, it's important to use a communication style consistent with what the open source community expects. Please make sure you use one of the standard email clients listed in Do NOT use the gmail web interface to respond to patch feedback, as it line-wraps the mail (even when in plain text mode). Do NOT use outlook, as it mangles patches (turns tabs into spaces).

Don't include quotes in your signature.

Responding inline

When responding to email, make sure you respond inline, rather than top-posting. This is a good example of responding inline.

Make sure your email client appends '>' characters to inline mail when you respond to it.

When you reply inline to a message, the lines you type shouldn't have a '>' symbol at the beginning of the line. Think of the carrot symbols as being similar to code indentation. When you follow the last '>' symbol up to the first “wrote” line where the '>' was introduced, you can find out who wrote that block of text.

Take a look at this example email with three people who are responding inline:

From: Kludge Crufty <>
Subject: Design decisions for next release

On Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 03:00:56PM -0700, Baz Quux wrote:
> On Fri, 12 September 2014 at 02:30:17PM -0700, Foo Bar wrote:
> >
> > I think we should do X.
> I think we should do Y.

I think we should do Z.


The email was sent by Kludge. Kludge is responding to an email sent by Baz at 3PM. Baz was responding to an email sent from Foo at 2:30PM.

From this snippet of mail, we can tell who said what by looking at the number of '>' symbols in front of each line:

  • Kludge wants to do Z, because their dialog has no '>' in front of it.
  • Baz wants to do Y, because their dialog has one '>' in front, and we follow that '>' level up to Baz's “wrote” line.
  • Foo wants to do X, because their dialog has two '> >' in front, and we follow the last '>' up to Foo's “wrote” line.

Another point to notice is that each responding person has put a blank line before and after their response. This makes it easier to find where some new text has been added.

Note that following inline conversation responses can be very difficult if your mail client or terminal isn't configured to show text in fixed-width fonts. This is one of the many reasons that kernel developers prefer text-based mail clients like mutt.

Revising your patches

Editing your commits

If you should need to edit your commits, please see the "Editing commits" and "Editing patchsets" sections.

Versioning one patch revision

If you receive feedback on a patch, and were asked to update the patch, you need to version the patches that you re-send. A new version number lets reviewers know you made changes to the patch, and they should review it again.

An example of what this would look like is:

[PATCH] Foo: Fix these things

And the updated versioning for a second revision:

[PATCH v2] Foo: Fix these things better

It's fairly simple to accomplish this, and there's certainly a few ways to do this. If you generate your patches using “git format-patch”, then it's simple to do this. Just add the –subject-prefix option like this:

git format-patch --subject-prefix="PATCH v2"

or whatever version you are currently on (3, 4, etc.).

Make sure to include a summary of what changed from one version of the patch (or patchset) to the next. Do not include a version change log in the patch description, because it won't make sense when the final version of the patch makes it into the kernel. Instead, edit your patches before you send them to include a change log below the “—” line. Git will ignore this change log when the patch is applied. Here's a good example of a patch with a change log:

Subject: [PATCH v2 1/2] USB: at91: fix the number of endpoint parameter

In sama5d3 SoC, there are 16 endpoints, which is different with
earlier SoCs (only have 7 endpoints). The USBA_NR_ENDPOINTS micro
is not suitable for sama5d3. So, get the endpoints number through
the udc->num_ep, which get from platform data for non-dt kernel,
or parse from dt node.

Signed-off-by: Bo Shen <>
Changes in v2:
  - Make the commit message more clearer.

 drivers/usb/gadget/atmel_usba_udc.c | 2 +-
 1 file changed, 1 insertion(+), 1 deletion(-)

diff --git a/drivers/usb/gadget/atmel_usba_udc.c b/drivers/usb/gadget/atmel_usba_udc.c

Update In case of more than 2 versions, make sure to include what has changed in each version below the – so that there is a logical flow and the maintainers do not have to dig up previous versions. The most recently changed version should be described first followed by the subsequent changes. Have a look at this patch example with 3 versions to get a better idea.

Versioning patchsets

When you send out a new version of a patchset, you could either indicate on each patch what has changed or you could include the changes in a coverletter. If you plan to indicate the changes in each patch, you need to specify what has changed in each version like in this patch example and indicate “No change” explicitly for patch versions that are unaltered. In case you decide to indicate the changes in a coverletter, here is an Example cover letter. You can include a coverletter in your patchset by using the “–cover-letter” option to “git format-patch”, e.g.

git format-patch -n --subject-prefix="PATCH vY" --cover-letter

where Y is the version of the patch you are currently sending. The cover-letter option will create a “PATCH 0/Y” that you can add a change log to. Make sure to change the SUBJECT HERE on the coverletter subject line. Note that cover letters are discarded when applying patches, so any information that you want to preserve in the git log should be in the patch descriptions, not the cover letter. The cover letter is for introducing what problem you're trying to solve, and including version change logs.

Make sure to include all of the patches you sent in the patchset before (i.e. if you sent three patches and you had to revise the second patch, send all three again).

An example of what this would look like is:

[PATCH 0/3] comedi: Fix these things
[PATCH 1/3] comedi: Fix the first thing
[PATCH 2/3] comedi: Fix the second thing
[PATCH 3/3] comedi: Fix the third thing

And the updated versioning for a second revision:

[PATCH v2 0/3] comedi: Fix these things
[PATCH v2 1/3] comedi: Fix the first thing
[PATCH v2 2/3] comedi: Fix the second thing
[PATCH v2 3/3] comedi: Fix the third thing

Submitting a patchset

Sometimes you need to send multiple related patches. This is useful for grouping, say, to group driver clean up patches for one particular driver into a set, or grouping patches that are part of a new feature into one set.

For example, take a look at this patch set:

Typically, the subject prefix for patches in the patchset are [PATCH X/Y] or [RFC X/Y], where Y is the total number of patches, and X is the current patch number. Patchsets often have a “cover letter” that is [PATCH 0/Y] or [RFC 0/Y]. A cover letter is used to explain why the patchset is necessary, and provide an overview of the end result of the patches. Cover letters are also great places to ask for help in reviewing specific patches in the patchset.

In order to create patchsets like this, you will need to use either “git send-email” or “git format-patch”. These tools will generate the right “In-Reply-To” Headers, so that in a text mail client, the patches will appear next to each other, rather than having unrelated email in between. Otherwise, patches may get jumbled, depending on when they were received.

Using git format-patch to send patchsets

First, use “git log –pretty=oneline –abbrev-commit” to figure out the first commit ID you want to send. For example, say that my tree had this git log history:

b7ca36a Docs: Move ref to Frohwalt Egerer to end of REPORTING-BUGS
bf6adaf Docs: Add a tips section to REPORTING-BUGS.
bc6bed4 Docs: Expectations for bug reporters and maintainers
2c97a63 Docs: Add info on supported kernels to REPORTING-BUGS.
7883a25 Docs: Add "Gather info" section to REPORTING-BUGS.
d60418b Docs: Step-by-step directions for reporting bugs.
3b12c21 Trivial: docs: Remove six-space indentation in REPORTING-BUGS.
bb33db7 Merge branches 'timers-urgent-for-linus', 'irq-urgent-for-linus' and 'core-urgent-for-linus' of git://
41ef2d5 Linux 3.9-rc7

The first commit I want to send as part of the patchset has commit ID 3b12c21. The last patch I want to send has commit ID b7ca36a. So, I want to pass the commit range 3b12c21^..b7ca36a to git format-patch. (Remember, the git format-patch range starting commit must be the commit before the first commit you want to send, so we use the '^' to specify the patch before commit 3b12c21.) The command will look something like this:

git format-patch -o /tmp/ --cover-letter -n --thread=shallow --cc="" 3b12c21^..b7ca36a

Again, the -o flag specifies where to put the email files. The -n flag says to add numbering to each patch (e.g. [PATCH 2/5]). The –thread=shallow flag specifies that all patches will be In-Reply-To your cover letter.

That will output files into /tmp, and you can edit them in mutt in multiple terminal tabs:


Please send patch to linux-kernel-mentees mailing list.

lkmp/lkmp_first_kernel_patch.txt · Last modified: 2019/08/08 22:22 by ShuahKhanLF