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-This directory attempts to document the ABI between the Linux kernel and
-userspace, and the relative stability of these interfaces. Due to the
-everchanging nature of Linux, and the differing maturity levels, these
-interfaces should be used by userspace programs in different ways.
-We have four different levels of ABI stability, as shown by the four
-different subdirectories in this location. Interfaces may change levels
-of stability according to the rules described below.
-The different levels of stability are:
- stable/
- This directory documents the interfaces that the developer has
- defined to be stable. Userspace programs are free to use these
- interfaces with no restrictions, and backward compatibility for
- them will be guaranteed for at least 2 years. Most interfaces
- (like syscalls) are expected to never change and always be
- available.
- testing/
- This directory documents interfaces that are felt to be stable,
- as the main development of this interface has been completed.
- The interface can be changed to add new features, but the
- current interface will not break by doing this, unless grave
- errors or security problems are found in them. Userspace
- programs can start to rely on these interfaces, but they must be
- aware of changes that can occur before these interfaces move to
- be marked stable. Programs that use these interfaces are
- strongly encouraged to add their name to the description of
- these interfaces, so that the kernel developers can easily
- notify them if any changes occur (see the description of the
- layout of the files below for details on how to do this.)
- obsolete/
- This directory documents interfaces that are still remaining in
- the kernel, but are marked to be removed at some later point in
- time. The description of the interface will document the reason
- why it is obsolete and when it can be expected to be removed.
- The file Documentation/feature-removal-schedule.txt may describe
- some of these interfaces, giving a schedule for when they will
- be removed.
- removed/
- This directory contains a list of the old interfaces that have
- been removed from the kernel.
-Every file in these directories will contain the following information:
-What: Short description of the interface
-Date: Date created
-KernelVersion: Kernel version this feature first showed up in.
-Contact: Primary contact for this interface (may be a mailing list)
-Description: Long description of the interface and how to use it.
-Users: All users of this interface who wish to be notified when
- it changes. This is very important for interfaces in
- the "testing" stage, so that kernel developers can work
- with userspace developers to ensure that things do not
- break in ways that are unacceptable. It is also
- important to get feedback for these interfaces to make
- sure they are working in a proper way and do not need to
- be changed further.
-How things move between levels:
-Interfaces in stable may move to obsolete, as long as the proper
-notification is given.
-Interfaces may be removed from obsolete and the kernel as long as the
-documented amount of time has gone by.
-Interfaces in the testing state can move to the stable state when the
-developers feel they are finished. They cannot be removed from the
-kernel tree without going through the obsolete state first.
-It's up to the developer to place their interfaces in the category they
-wish for it to start out in.