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SubjectRFC - size tool for kernel build system
I've been thinking about a tool that might be useful
to track kernel size changes. I'm posting this
Request For Comments to get feedback, and determine
if this is something that would be worthwhile to

What I envision is some new kernel build targets, specifically
related to gathering size information and generating a size
comparison report. Some small helper scripts would be written
to gather the necessary information, and generate the report.

A kernel developer would type:

1) make size-baseline

And kernel size information would be recorded for the
current kernel (after a build, if needed).
I envision this saving off the .config and, the
result of 'size vmlinux' and several of the 'size */builtin.o'

Additionally (and optionally), a program could
be run to acquire some size information from a running
system (e.g. a newly booted system, or a system under
a particular load), to include in the baseline report.

All of the gathered information would be stored
as the "size baseline".


After making some modifications, either to the source
or the configuration, the developer could type:

2) make size-report

The kernel size information would be recorded again, and
compared with the size-baseline results. A report of
differences (e.g. from bloat-o-meter and other comparison
tools) would be produced. Any differences exceeding some
threshhold (specified in a size-watch config file?)
could be highlighted. The git commit IDs would be recorded,
as well as differences between the configs used
(e.g. diffconfig output).

If some designated size difference exceeds
a threshold (specified in the size-watch configuration)
then the make could return an error, while still producing
the report. This would mean that this could be used
for git bisection to find a size regression.

Another way to look at this, would be that a developer
could pick a specific size value to monitor (for example,
the static size of the network sub-system, or the
size of a particular slab in the dynamic memory of a
newly booted kernel). They would specify that in the
size-watch config, and could monitor that size over time
and under various configurations.

I envision a couple of usages:
1) A developer could use this to be able to see a
report about the total size increases caused by a patch
they are about to submit

2) A developer could compare kernel versions for overall
size changes

3) A maintainer could examine the affect of a patch on the
size of their subsystem.

4) A developer could compare different kernel configs to
see the impact of configuration option choices.

5) An automated tool could generate size values to associate
with different config option choices (at least, starting from
a consistent config set).

6) An automated tool could generate size values for each
kernel version (this is what Bloatwatch does now).

Bloatwatch generates information on the static size information
for various kernel versions. This would have a similar purpose,
but the intent would be to integrate it into the kernel build
system, to allow any developer to measure the size information,
and highlight and track the information of their choice.

Any comments?
-- Tim

Tim Bird
Architecture Group Chair, CE Linux Forum
Senior Staff Engineer, Sony Corporation of America

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