arch/riscv maintenance guidelines for developers


The RISC-V instruction set architecture is developed in the open: in-progress drafts are available for all to review and to experiment with implementations. New module or extension drafts can change during the development process - sometimes in ways that are incompatible with previous drafts. This flexibility can present a challenge for RISC-V Linux maintenance. Linux maintainers disapprove of churn, and the Linux development process prefers well-reviewed and tested code over experimental code. We wish to extend these same principles to the RISC-V-related code that will be accepted for inclusion in the kernel.


RISC-V has a patchwork instance, where the status of patches can be checked:

If your patch does not appear in the default view, the RISC-V maintainers have likely either requested changes, or expect it to be applied to another tree.

Automation runs against this patchwork instance, building/testing patches as they arrive. The automation applies patches against the current HEAD of the RISC-V for-next and fixes branches, depending on whether the patch has been detected as a fix. Failing those, it will use the RISC-V master branch. The exact commit to which a series has been applied will be noted on patchwork. Patches for which any of the checks fail are unlikely to be applied and in most cases will need to be resubmitted.

Submit Checklist Addendum

We’ll only accept patches for new modules or extensions if the specifications for those modules or extensions are listed as being unlikely to be incompatibly changed in the future. For specifications from the RISC-V foundation this means “Frozen” or “Ratified”, for the UEFI forum specifications this means a published ECR. (Developers may, of course, maintain their own Linux kernel trees that contain code for any draft extensions that they wish.)

Additionally, the RISC-V specification allows implementers to create their own custom extensions. These custom extensions aren’t required to go through any review or ratification process by the RISC-V Foundation. To avoid the maintenance complexity and potential performance impact of adding kernel code for implementor-specific RISC-V extensions, we’ll only consider patches for extensions that either:

  • Have been officially frozen or ratified by the RISC-V Foundation, or

  • Have been implemented in hardware that is widely available, per standard Linux practice.

(Implementers, may, of course, maintain their own Linux kernel trees containing code for any custom extensions that they wish.)