How do _you_ read the linux source?

Ruben Safir ruben at
Mon Apr 20 20:38:55 EDT 2015

On Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 02:16:49AM +0200, Milton Krutt wrote:
> > On Sun, Apr 19, 2015 at 06:57:49PM -0700, r00nk at wrote:
> > > 	The problem a lot of newbies are having is in 'separating the trunk
> > > from the leaves.' So my question is this: Experienced kernel developers, how
> > > do _you_ read source code? How do you separate the trunk from the leaves?
> > > What do you do when you read code you're not familiar with? How do you learn?
> > > What's your algorithm?
> Maybe it could help to firstly focus on data structures/types rather than functions;
> and I would discourage to read code like a book, I mean from left to right and
> from top to bottom. And, take a subsystem/part (even if it's very small) of interest
> and just focus on it. For instance, I guess there is plenty of documentation on how
> linux boots up: read it, and search through the source where what you have read is done.

Booting is so messed up that it might not be the place to start.  Asking
how to read the code is a non-sensible question.  Its like asking how do
you speak French.  The answer is, I speak it.  You don't know how to
speak it?  Well staring at incomrehesible code aint helping you any.

It requires one to interact with it, and that requires background.  

So the question is, I just do and if I can't understand it I roll up my
sleeves and research, ask, discuss, and work with it.

There is no forrest... there is no trees.  

> compile your own kernel, if you haven't done it yet!
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