A tale of four kernels

TitleA tale of four kernels
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSpinellis, Diomidis
Secondary TitleProceedings of the 30th international conference on Software engineering
Place PublishedNew York, NY, USA
ISBN Number978-1-60558-079-1
Keywordscomparison, freebsd, linux, open source, opensolaris, proprietary software, windows, wrk

The FreeBSD, GNU/Linux, Solaris, and Windows operating systems have kernels that provide comparable facilities. Interestingly, their code bases share almost no common parts, while their development processes vary dramatically. We analyze the source code of the four systems by collecting metrics in the areas of file organization, code structure, code style, the use of the C preprocessor, and data organization. The aggregate results indicate that across various areas and many different metrics, four systems developed using wildly different processes score comparably. This allows us to posit that the structure and internal quality attributes of a working, non-trivial software artifact will represent first and foremost the engineering requirements of its construction, with the influence of process being marginal, if any.