Hello everyone! In this Post, I will describe my experience writing my first patch set to the Linux Kernel, more specifically in the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem.

Why I’m Doing This

Two years ago, when I started university, I became excited about open-source software. Before university, I had heard about Linux, Vim, and other open-source projects, but never used or read much about them.

I’ve found that using those technologies made my workflow much better. When I entered an extracurricular group called Zenith, I met some friends there, like Maíra Canal, that were already interested in contributing.

My first contribution was a patch started in a hackathon, made by LKCAMP, to the Linux Kernel that I co-developed. The experience of creating it was quite interesting. After it, I contributed a couple more times, once to the LLVM and again to the Linux Kernel, where I made my first own patch.

Now I feel that the GSoC 2023 will be a perfect opportunity to work even more in the open-source community, something that I really like to do. This patchset is part of my initiation on the GSoC project Idea about Increasing Code Coverage on the DRM code. The main idea is to increase the test coverage of the DRM core helpers by adding more KUnit tests to it.

Patchset Idea

The idea is to decrease number of warnings generated when compiling the AMD GPU drivers with W=1. This is a pretty simple task to start working on, as is not needed an specific hardware to test it.

Sometimes this work could be viewed as not useful, but it is a much-needed job that sometimes is put aside on behalf of more urgent problems. It makes the code less error-prone, more readable, and simpler, helping others in developing.

Set Up

To start you can clone the drm-misc Linux Kernel tree as it was recommend. (If you want, you can use the amd-staging-drm-next branch too ;) ).

git clone git://anongit.freedesktop.org/drm/drm-misc

Or you can add the remote to an existing local repository of the Linux Kernel. (That was what I did :P).

git remote add drm-misc git://anongit.freedesktop.org/drm/drm-misc

And create a local branch based on the drm-misc-next branch.

git checkout drm-misc/drm-misc-next
git checkout -b fix-warning

After that I used the defconfig and added the AMDGPU config as a module with the menuconfig.

make defconfig
make menuconfig # Add AMDGPU as a module


The idea is trying to resolve the warnings that appear when building the AMDGPU code. Considering the kernel uses the -Werror flag, the build will stop after any warning, which can make the development process a bit tricky. To speed up the process it is possible to add -Wno-error to KCFLAGS in the make command with the W=1. This way you be able to resolve multiple warnings in one go.

make W=1 KCFLAGS='-Wno-error' modules

This will compile the module and generate all the warnings, which can be a bit overwhelming as all types of warnings appear together.

To focus into one warning you can remove the W=1 flag and add the specific to KCFLAGS, so the final command would be:

make KCFLAGS='-Wno-error -W<specific-warning>' modules

What was done

The patch set focused in four types of warnings:

  • -Wunused-but-set-variables

    Warn when a variable has its value changed but never used in any other way. The warning could be indicative that the code its not doing what it was meant to do. It also makes the code less readable with dead code.

  • -Wenum-conversion

    Warn when a value of enumerated type is implicitly converted to a different enumerated type.

  • -Wmissing-prototypes

    Warn if a global function is defined without a previous prototype declaration.

  • Excess arguments on Kernel docs

    Warn when arguments are described on the kernel doc but not present on the function definition.

At first the set was composed only by 4 patches, one for each type of warning, but after some advice from Maíra Canal they were split even more as different tactics were used to fix the same type of problem in different places.

How I Sent

For a more in depth procedure, please read the kernel documentation about this topic.

First, I used the check-patch utility to check all the commits for any code style error

./scripts/check-patch --strict -g drm-misc/drm-misc-next


  • --strict: enable more subjective tests
  • -g drm-misc/drm-misc-next: check all the commit until the drm-misc-next branch

To format the patchset I used the git format-patch utility

# On the fix-warning branch
git format-patch drm-misc/drm-misc-next -o outgoing --cover-letter


  • drm-misc/drm-misc-next: get all the commits until the drm-misc-next branch
  • -o outgoing: place the patches on the outgoing directory
  • --cover-letter: generate a first patch file with a cover letter to write about the whole patch

After I wrote my cover letter and made various sanity checks such as: compiling the kernel one more time and reading the patch files to spot any errors. I used the get_maintainer utility to find the maintainers and mailing lists to which I had to send my patches.

./scripts/get_maintainer.pl outgoing/*


  • outgoing/*: read all the patches inside the outgoing directory

After that I used the git send-email to send the patches to all the emails that were maintainers or supporters on the get_maintainer output and to the dri-devel and amd-gfx mailing lists.

git send-email \
--to='amd-gfx@lists.freedesktop.org, dri-devel@lists.freedesktop.org' \
--cc='<emails-of-maintainers-and-subscribers>' outgoing/*

To a tutorial on how to setup git send-email, I recommend the sourcehut tutorial.

After all this work I needed to wait for responses and hope that no dumb errors were present :).

How the Patch was Received

Fortunately the patches had a pretty good response!

The first version of the patch set had 10 patches and six of them were accepted with no requests for changes. The other four received different responses: One was thought unnecessary, another hasn’t had any response yet, and the other two were requested some modification.

Those last couple ones will be sent on the second version of this patch.

What To Do Next

After this first version I’ll send a v2 with the 2 patches that were asked revision and the patch that did not receive any response on the v1.

After that, I intend to keep preparing myself for GSoC 2023! I’m thinking of exploring the unit test on the DRM side with Kunit. But this will be explained better on a next blog post.

See ya! :)