A key Linux kernel contributor has admitted the developer community can be intimidating and hard to break into.

Jonathan Corbet, also the co-founder of LWN.net, highlighted the issue during his Linux.conf.au presentation on the Linux kernel. Corbet discussed the seven challenges facing the kernel with attendees, the first being vitality.

He said the development process and community were depended upon to keep the kernel moving forward and evolving, but dismissed criticism that the volume of patches could dwindle.

“If you worry about the vitality of your development process, then you should really worry about a day that comes when we say ‘you know what, we’re out of ideas’,” Corbet said. “The vitality of the process is strong and things are working well.”

He said in a period of just over a year, 55,000 individual changes from 2700 developers, representing 370 employers, were made to the kernel, equaling 2.8 million lines of code. He boasted that the development process is “alive and active”.

“We’ve got a process that is merging 144 change sets every single day and adding over 7300 lines of code to the kernel every single day,” he said.

However, when questioned by an audience member Corbet agreed it can be difficult for new talent to get involved and be accepted by the Linux kernel group.

“Any development process that takes code from 2700 developers over the course of a year can’t be too exclusive, but it can be intimidating to come into,” he said. “There’s been a lot of work done to make it easier for people to try and come into our community… Things have improved a lot but there’s a lot further we can go.”

The other challenges discussed by Corbet during his LCA2010 presentation include: Scalability, storage, visibility, response, containment and hardware.

The latest release of the Linux kernel, 2.6.33 is expected to be out by the beginning of March. More information can be found on the Linux.conf.au website.