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    Subject[PATCH] CodingStyle: add typedefs chapter
    From: Randy Dunlap <>

    Add a chapter on typedefs, copied from an email from Linus
    to lkml on Feb. 3, 2006.
    (Subject: Re: [RFC][PATCH 1/5] Virtualization/containers: startup)

    Signed-off-by: Randy Dunlap <>
    Documentation/CodingStyle | 77 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++--------
    1 files changed, 65 insertions(+), 12 deletions(-)

    --- linux-2617-rc3.orig/Documentation/CodingStyle
    +++ linux-2617-rc3/Documentation/CodingStyle
    @@ -155,7 +155,60 @@ problem, which is called the function-gr
    See next chapter.

    - Chapter 5: Functions
    + Chapter 5: Typedefs
    +Please don't use things like "vps_t".
    +It's a _mistake_ to use typedef for structures and pointers. When you see a
    + vps_t a;
    +in the source, what does it mean?
    +In contrast, if it says
    + struct virtual_container *a;
    +you can actually tell what "a" is.
    +Lots of people think that typedefs "help readability". Not so. They are
    +useful only for:
    + (a) totally opaque objects (where the typedef is actively used to _hide_
    + what the object is).
    + Example: "pte_t" etc. opaque objects that you can only access using
    + the proper accessor functions.
    + NOTE! Opaqueness and "accessor functions" are not good in themselves.
    + The reason we have them for things like pte_t etc. is that there
    + really is absolutely _zero_ portably accessible information there.
    + (b) Clear integer types, where the abstraction _helps_ avoid confusion
    + whether it is "int" or "long".
    + u8/u16/u32 are perfectly fine typedefs.
    + NOTE! Again - there needs to be a _reason_ for this. If something is
    + "unsigned long", then there's no reason to do
    + typedef long myflags_t;
    + but if there is a clear reason for why it under certain circumstances
    + might be an "unsigned int" and under other configurations might be
    + "unsigned long", then by all means go ahead and use a typedef.
    + (c) when you use sparse to literally create a _new_ type for
    + type-checking.
    +Maybe there are other cases too, but the rule should basically be to NEVER
    +EVER use a typedef unless you can clearly match one of those rules.
    +In general, a pointer, or a struct that has elements that can reasonably
    +be directly accessed should _never_ be a typedef.
    + Chapter 6: Functions

    Functions should be short and sweet, and do just one thing. They should
    fit on one or two screenfuls of text (the ISO/ANSI screen size is 80x24,
    @@ -183,7 +236,7 @@ and it gets confused. You know you're b
    to understand what you did 2 weeks from now.

    - Chapter 6: Centralized exiting of functions
    + Chapter 7: Centralized exiting of functions

    Albeit deprecated by some people, the equivalent of the goto statement is
    used frequently by compilers in form of the unconditional jump instruction.
    @@ -220,7 +273,7 @@ out:
    return result;

    - Chapter 7: Commenting
    + Chapter 8: Commenting

    Comments are good, but there is also a danger of over-commenting. NEVER
    try to explain HOW your code works in a comment: it's much better to
    @@ -240,7 +293,7 @@ When commenting the kernel API functions
    See the files Documentation/kernel-doc-nano-HOWTO.txt and scripts/kernel-doc
    for details.

    - Chapter 8: You've made a mess of it
    + Chapter 9: You've made a mess of it

    That's OK, we all do. You've probably been told by your long-time Unix
    user helper that "GNU emacs" automatically formats the C sources for
    @@ -288,7 +341,7 @@ re-formatting you may want to take a loo
    remember: "indent" is not a fix for bad programming.

    - Chapter 9: Configuration-files
    + Chapter 10: Configuration-files

    For configuration options (arch/xxx/Kconfig, and all the Kconfig files),
    somewhat different indentation is used.
    @@ -313,7 +366,7 @@ support for file-systems, for instance)
    experimental options should be denoted (EXPERIMENTAL).

    - Chapter 10: Data structures
    + Chapter 11: Data structures

    Data structures that have visibility outside the single-threaded
    environment they are created and destroyed in should always have
    @@ -344,7 +397,7 @@ Remember: if another thread can find you
    have a reference count on it, you almost certainly have a bug.

    - Chapter 11: Macros, Enums and RTL
    + Chapter 12: Macros, Enums and RTL

    Names of macros defining constants and labels in enums are capitalized.

    @@ -399,7 +452,7 @@ The cpp manual deals with macros exhaust
    covers RTL which is used frequently with assembly language in the kernel.

    - Chapter 12: Printing kernel messages
    + Chapter 13: Printing kernel messages

    Kernel developers like to be seen as literate. Do mind the spelling
    of kernel messages to make a good impression. Do not use crippled
    @@ -410,7 +463,7 @@ Kernel messages do not have to be termin
    Printing numbers in parentheses (%d) adds no value and should be avoided.

    - Chapter 13: Allocating memory
    + Chapter 14: Allocating memory

    The kernel provides the following general purpose memory allocators:
    kmalloc(), kzalloc(), kcalloc(), and vmalloc(). Please refer to the API
    @@ -429,7 +482,7 @@ from void pointer to any other pointer t

    - Chapter 14: The inline disease
    + Chapter 15: The inline disease

    There appears to be a common misperception that gcc has a magic "make me
    faster" speedup option called "inline". While the use of inlines can be
    @@ -457,7 +510,7 @@ something it would have done anyway.

    - Chapter 15: References
    + Appendix I: References

    The C Programming Language, Second Edition
    by Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie.
    @@ -481,4 +534,4 @@ Kernel CodingStyle, by at

    -Last updated on 30 December 2005 by a community effort on LKML.
    +Last updated on 30 April 2006.

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