Eudyptula Challenge

Learning is always easier when you have a goal. If you’ve ever wanted to get started with Linux kernel development, but haven’t had a clear goal in mind, give the Eudyptula Challenge a go.

I’m the 22nd person to have finished the Eudyptula Challenge. It’s a series of (currently 20) challenges, increasing in difficulty, designed to introduce and educate the participant in the methods, techniques and code-base surrounding the Linux kernel and it’s development. It’s not a tutorial however, the challenges are posed, and it’s upon the participant to investigate and learn enough to complete the challenge. As a result, public discussion of specific questions is discouraged.

Subject matter ranges from building custom kernels, coding style modifications, patch submission, locking mechanisms, networking and file-systems. It’s a good broad stroke introduction to developing in the kernel.

Some challenges were relatively trivial, others less so. The final challenge in particular was a dramatic step-up in difficulty. In some cases, gathering the ‘proof’ required to demonstrate your solution was working was substantially more complicated than the solution itself.

The challenge all takes place over email, mirroring the patch submission process for the Linux kernel. It requires an email client that’s capable of sending plain text emails (there are notes out there for most clients on how to make this happen). Submissions are somewhat automatically reviewed, although several definitely require a person to critique the solution.

There are a few other sites popping up around the challenge that are talking about it. There’s a great article over at Linux Weekly News that covers another’s experience with the challenge.

I’ve certainly learnt a lot from working through the challenge, and I’d think that most developers would learn something. It’s a fun and enjoyable project to have ticking along in the background. Give it a go!

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