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This year’s Linux Plumbers Conference concluded on the 11th of September 2019. This invitation-only conference for Linux top kernel developers was held in Lisbon, Portugal this year. The conference brings developers working on the plumbing of Linux – kernel subsystems, core libraries, windowing systems, etc. to think about core design problems.

Unlike most tech conferences that generally discuss the future of the Linux operating system, the Linux Plumbers Conference has a distinct motive behind it. In an interview with ZDNet, Linus Torvalds, the Linux creator said, “The maintainer summit is really different because it doesn’t even talk about technical issues. It’s all about the process of creating and maintaining the Linux kernel.” In short, the developers attending the conference know confidential and intimate details about some of the Linux kernel subsystems, and maybe this is why the conference has the word ‘Plumbers’ in it.

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The conference is divided into several working sessions focusing on different plumbing topics. This year the Linux Plumbers Conference had over 18 microconferences, with topics like RISC-V, tracing, distribution kernels, live patching, open printing, toolchains, testing and fuzzing, and more.

Some Micro conferences covered in Linux Plumbers Conference 2019

The Linux Plumbers 2019 RISC-V MC (microconference) focussed on finding the solutions for changing the kernel. In the long run, this discussion of changing the kernel is expected to result in active developer participation for code review/patch submissions for a better and more stable kernel for RISC-V. Some of the topics covered in RISC-V MC included RISC-V platform specification progress and fixing the Linux boot process in RISC-V.

The Plumbers Live Patching MC had an open discussion for all the involved stakeholders to discuss the live patching related issues such that it will help in making the live patching of the Linux kernel and the Linux userspace live patching feature complete. This open discussion has been a success in past conferences as it leads to useful output which helps in pushing the development of the live patching forward. Some of the topics included all the happenings in kernel live in the last one year, API for state changes made by callbacks and source-based livepatch creation tooling.

The System Boot and Security MC concentrated on open source security, including bootloaders, firmware, BMCs and TPMs. The potential speakers and key participants for the MC had everybody interested in GRUB, iPXE, coreboot, LinuxBoot, SeaBIOS, UEFI, OVMF, TianoCore, IPMI, OpenBMC, TPM, and other related projects and technologies.

The main goal of this year’s Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) MC was to resolve the open issues in RDMA and PCI peer to peer for GPU and NVMe applications, including HMM and DMABUF topics, RDMA and DAX, contiguous system memory allocations for userspace which is unresolved from 2017 and many more. Other areas of interest included multi-vendor virtualized ‘virtio’ RDMA, non-standard driver features and their impact on the design of the subsystem, and more.

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Linux developers who attended the Plumbers 2019 conference were appreciative of the conference and took to Twitter to share their experiences.

The videos of the conference are not out yet. The team behind the conference has tweeted that they will be uploading them soon. Keep checking this space for more details about the Linux Plumbers Conference 2019. Meanwhile, you can check out last year’s talks on YouTube.

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