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Conference Papers Year : 2021

Automated Patch Backporting in Linux (Experience Paper)


Whenever a bug or vulnerability is detected in the Linux kernel, the kernel developers will endeavour to fix it by introducing a patch into the mainline version of the Linux kernel source tree. However, many users run older "stable" versions of Linux, meaning that the patch should also be "backported" to one or more of these older kernel versions. This process is error-prone and there is usually a long delay in publishing the backported patch. Based on an empirical study, we show that around 8% of all commits submitted to Linux mainline are backported to older versions, but often more than one month elapses before the backport is available. Hence, we propose a patch backporting technique that can automatically transfer patches from the mainline version of Linux into older stable versions. Our approach first synthesizes a partial transformation rule based on a Linux mainline patch. This rule can then be generalized by analysing the alignment between the mainline and target versions. The generalized rule is then applied to the target version to produce a backported patch. We have implemented our transformation technique in a tool called FixMorph and evaluated it on 350 Linux mainline patches. FixMorph correctly backports 75.1% of them. Compared to existing techniques, FixMorph improves both the precision and recall in backporting patches. Apart from automation of software maintenance tasks, patch backporting helps in reducing the exposure to known security vulnerabilities in stable versions of the Linux kernel.
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hal-03359062 , version 1 (29-09-2021)



Ridwan Shariffdeen, Xiang Gao, Gregory J Duck, Shin Hwei Tan, Julia Lawall, et al.. Automated Patch Backporting in Linux (Experience Paper). ISSTA 2021: Proceedings of the 30th ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis, Jul 2021, Aarhus (virtual), Denmark. ⟨10.1145/3460319.3464821⟩. ⟨hal-03359062⟩
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