Kernel branches

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This page explains how we take advantage of GIT branches for kernel development at Openmoko. The Kernel page is the sister of this page.

Note: At the moment we are only using the andy-tracking branch. This will change soon.

How we use GIT History

The branches whose names end in -tracking have a history in GIT. This history allows us to go back and to check who did what and when it happened.

Committed patches appear directly on the branch they were committed on. If a patch goes into stable-tracking it will appear there as normal, but what appears in the downstream branches rebasing off that is a single MERGE commit that contains whatever the diff is between the unrebased and rebased version of that branch. Since Andy rebases very often, it will not be unusual that the MERGE version used downstream is just the one added upstream patch content, but it can also be typical that the MERGE commit will contain the changes from dozens or hundreds of patches when the Linus tree updates or example.

The reason for this new way is that it gives the public -tracking branches a linear history that you can rewind, despite that they are being hard rebased constantly.


We will fork stable kernels from this branch.

Think of this as the branch where most of the action takes place (at least for most of us). If you simply target andy-tracking for patches, the resulting patch will automatically be ready for either andy-tracking, pending-tracking (usually) or stable-tracking depending on what it touched.

If in doubt ask in the mailing list.


We can end up with a bunch of patches from several directions heading into various upstreams if we're lucky.

We have a "pending-tracking" that fits in between stable-tracking and andy-tracking, to temporarily hold all the patches that are expected to come from upstream eventually. Balaji-tracking feeds into this now, but there's other stuff like Matt's patches headed for s3c64xx upstream too.

This allows for Balaji's patches being rebased without writing in balaji-tracking, and it also allows Andy to track changes from balaji-tracking and elsewhere in one place too.

Some patch work-flow before introducing stable-trackig

Patch belongs in upstream, eg, Linus or Ben Dooks tree --> pending-tracking. It's kept segregated because we expect it to turn up by upstream rebase path; if it changes on the way we can adapt it in pending-tracking and rebase

Patch bases on stuff in pending-tracking, eg uses Balaji regulator things ---> andy-tracking. It's kept segregated because "it lives in the future" where the pending upstream patches arrived upstream.

Neither of the above ---> stable-tracking


All patches end up in this branch, that's what it expects.

Stuff temporarily in pending-tracking will eventually turn up from upstream pulls, at that time it's no longer pending and is part of what stable-tracking rebased against. The now duplicate patch in pending-tracking is then removed. The patch ended up in stable-tracking.

Once the pending-tracking patch became part of stable-tracking, there is no reason for the patches modifying or depending on it held until now in andy-tracking not to merge back into stable-tracking either. So patches in andy-tracking gravitate to stable-tracking as soon as possible too.

More patch work-flow

Because andy-tracking is "living in the future" with latest pending upstream patches included, it makes sense to take the advantage from these even at the risk the patches will be rejected upstream.


This is a temporal branch with no history. We use it as a temporal playground so that we can get patches ready for upstream.


This page started as an improvement of this email sent by Andy Green to the Openmoko kernel list.

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