Fast and Precise Retrieval of Forward and Back Porting Information for Linux Device Drivers


Julia Lawall, Derek Palinski, Lukas Gnirke, and Gilles Muller, Sorbonne Universités/UPMC/Inria/LIP6


Porting Linux device drivers to target more recent and older Linux kernel versions to compensate for the everchanging kernel interface is a continual problem for Linux device driver developers. Acquiring information about interface changes is a necessary, but tedious and error prone, part of this task. In this paper, we propose two tools, Prequel and gcc-reduce, to help the developer collect the needed information. Prequel provides language support for querying git commit histories, while gcc-reduce translates error messages produced by compiling a driver with a target kernel into appropriate Prequel queries. We have used our approach in porting 33 device driver files over up to 3 years of Linux kernel history, amounting to hundreds of thousands of commits. In these experiments, for 3/4 of the porting issues, our approach highlighted commits that enabled solving the porting task. For many porting issues, our approach retrieves relevant commits in 30 seconds or less.

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@inproceedings {203203,
author = {Julia Lawall and Derek Palinski and Lukas Gnirke and Gilles Muller},
title = {Fast and Precise Retrieval of Forward and Back Porting Information for Linux Device Drivers},
booktitle = {2017 {USENIX} Annual Technical Conference ({USENIX} {ATC} 17)},
year = {2017},
isbn = {978-1-931971-38-6},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
pages = {15--26},
url = {},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},