netdev FAQ

What is netdev?

It is a mailing list for all network-related Linux stuff. This includes anything found under net/ (i.e. core code like IPv6) and drivers/net (i.e. hardware specific drivers) in the Linux source tree.

Note that some subsystems (e.g. wireless drivers) which have a high volume of traffic have their own specific mailing lists.

The netdev list is managed (like many other Linux mailing lists) through VGER ( and archives can be found below:

Aside from subsystems like that mentioned above, all network-related Linux development (i.e. RFC, review, comments, etc.) takes place on netdev.

How do the changes posted to netdev make their way into Linux?

There are always two trees (git repositories) in play. Both are driven by David Miller, the main network maintainer. There is the net tree, and the net-next tree. As you can probably guess from the names, the net tree is for fixes to existing code already in the mainline tree from Linus, and net-next is where the new code goes for the future release. You can find the trees here:

How often do changes from these trees make it to the mainline Linus tree?

To understand this, you need to know a bit of background information on the cadence of Linux development. Each new release starts off with a two week “merge window” where the main maintainers feed their new stuff to Linus for merging into the mainline tree. After the two weeks, the merge window is closed, and it is called/tagged -rc1. No new features get mainlined after this – only fixes to the rc1 content are expected. After roughly a week of collecting fixes to the rc1 content, rc2 is released. This repeats on a roughly weekly basis until rc7 (typically; sometimes rc6 if things are quiet, or rc8 if things are in a state of churn), and a week after the last vX.Y-rcN was done, the official vX.Y is released.

Relating that to netdev: At the beginning of the 2-week merge window, the net-next tree will be closed - no new changes/features. The accumulated new content of the past ~10 weeks will be passed onto mainline/Linus via a pull request for vX.Y – at the same time, the net tree will start accumulating fixes for this pulled content relating to vX.Y

An announcement indicating when net-next has been closed is usually sent to netdev, but knowing the above, you can predict that in advance.

IMPORTANT: Do not send new net-next content to netdev during the period during which net-next tree is closed.

Shortly after the two weeks have passed (and vX.Y-rc1 is released), the tree for net-next reopens to collect content for the next (vX.Y+1) release.

If you aren’t subscribed to netdev and/or are simply unsure if net-next has re-opened yet, simply check the net-next git repository link above for any new networking-related commits. You may also check the following website for the current status:

The net tree continues to collect fixes for the vX.Y content, and is fed back to Linus at regular (~weekly) intervals. Meaning that the focus for net is on stabilization and bug fixes.

Finally, the vX.Y gets released, and the whole cycle starts over.

So where are we now in this cycle?

Load the mainline (Linus) page here:

and note the top of the “tags” section. If it is rc1, it is early in the dev cycle. If it was tagged rc7 a week ago, then a release is probably imminent.

How do I indicate which tree (net vs. net-next) my patch should be in?

Firstly, think whether you have a bug fix or new “next-like” content. Then once decided, assuming that you use git, use the prefix flag, i.e.

git format-patch --subject-prefix='PATCH net-next' start..finish

Use net instead of net-next (always lower case) in the above for bug-fix net content. If you don’t use git, then note the only magic in the above is just the subject text of the outgoing e-mail, and you can manually change it yourself with whatever MUA you are comfortable with.

I sent a patch and I’m wondering what happened to it - how can I tell whether it got merged?

Start by looking at the main patchworks queue for netdev:

The “State” field will tell you exactly where things are at with your patch.

The above only says “Under Review”. How can I find out more?

Generally speaking, the patches get triaged quickly (in less than 48h). So be patient. Asking the maintainer for status updates on your patch is a good way to ensure your patch is ignored or pushed to the bottom of the priority list.

I submitted multiple versions of the patch series. Should I directly update patchwork for the previous versions of these patch series?

No, please don’t interfere with the patch status on patchwork, leave it to the maintainer to figure out what is the most recent and current version that should be applied. If there is any doubt, the maintainer will reply and ask what should be done.

I made changes to only a few patches in a patch series should I resend only those changed?

No, please resend the entire patch series and make sure you do number your patches such that it is clear this is the latest and greatest set of patches that can be applied.

I submitted multiple versions of a patch series and it looks like a version other than the last one has been accepted, what should I do?

There is no revert possible, once it is pushed out, it stays like that. Please send incremental versions on top of what has been merged in order to fix the patches the way they would look like if your latest patch series was to be merged.

Are there special rules regarding stable submissions on netdev?

While it used to be the case that netdev submissions were not supposed to carry explicit CC: tags that is no longer the case today. Please follow the standard stable rules in Everything you ever wanted to know about Linux -stable releases, and make sure you include appropriate Fixes tags!

Is the comment style convention different for the networking content?

Yes, in a largely trivial way. Instead of this:

 * foobar blah blah blah
 * another line of text

it is requested that you make it look like this:

/* foobar blah blah blah
 * another line of text

I am working in existing code that has the former comment style and not the latter. Should I submit new code in the former style or the latter?

Make it the latter style, so that eventually all code in the domain of netdev is of this format.

I found a bug that might have possible security implications or similar. Should I mail the main netdev maintainer off-list?

No. The current netdev maintainer has consistently requested that people use the mailing lists and not reach out directly. If you aren’t OK with that, then perhaps consider mailing or reading about as possible alternative mechanisms.

What level of testing is expected before I submit my change?

If your changes are against net-next, the expectation is that you have tested by layering your changes on top of net-next. Ideally you will have done run-time testing specific to your change, but at a minimum, your changes should survive an allyesconfig and an allmodconfig build without new warnings or failures.

How do I post corresponding changes to user space components?

User space code exercising kernel features should be posted alongside kernel patches. This gives reviewers a chance to see how any new interface is used and how well it works.

When user space tools reside in the kernel repo itself all changes should generally come as one series. If series becomes too large or the user space project is not reviewed on netdev include a link to a public repo where user space patches can be seen.

In case user space tooling lives in a separate repository but is reviewed on netdev (e.g. patches to iproute2 tools) kernel and user space patches should form separate series (threads) when posted to the mailing list, e.g.:

[PATCH net-next 0/3] net: some feature cover letter
 └─ [PATCH net-next 1/3] net: some feature prep
 └─ [PATCH net-next 2/3] net: some feature do it
 └─ [PATCH net-next 3/3] selftest: net: some feature

[PATCH iproute2-next] ip: add support for some feature

Posting as one thread is discouraged because it confuses patchwork (as of patchwork 2.2.2).

Can I reproduce the checks from patchwork on my local machine?

Checks in patchwork are mostly simple wrappers around existing kernel scripts, the sources are available at:

Running all the builds and checks locally is a pain, can I post my patches and have the patchwork bot validate them?

No, you must ensure that your patches are ready by testing them locally before posting to the mailing list. The patchwork build bot instance gets overloaded very easily and netdev@vger really doesn’t need more traffic if we can help it.

Any other tips to help ensure my net/net-next patch gets OK’d?

Attention to detail. Re-read your own work as if you were the reviewer. You can start with using, perhaps even with the --strict flag. But do not be mindlessly robotic in doing so. If your change is a bug fix, make sure your commit log indicates the end-user visible symptom, the underlying reason as to why it happens, and then if necessary, explain why the fix proposed is the best way to get things done. Don’t mangle whitespace, and as is common, don’t mis-indent function arguments that span multiple lines. If it is your first patch, mail it to yourself so you can test apply it to an unpatched tree to confirm infrastructure didn’t mangle it.

Finally, go back and read Submitting patches: the essential guide to getting your code into the kernel to be sure you are not repeating some common mistake documented there.