Google and the Linux Foundation have announced plans to maintain and improve Linux’s long-term security. As part of the plan, the organizations will prioritize funds to underwrite long-time Linux kernel maintainers Gustavo Silva and Nathan Chancellor as full-time developers focused on Linux kernel security development. 

This decision follows a survey by the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF) and the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH), which found a need for additional security work on the Linux operating system. 

“At Google, security is always top of mind and we understand the critical role it plays to the sustainability of open source software,” said Dan Lorenc, a staff software engineer at Google. “We’re honored to support the efforts of both Gustavo Silva and Nathan Chancellor as they work to enhance the security of the Linux kernel.”

Chancellor’s work will focus on triaging and fixing all bugs found with Clang/LLVM compilers and on establishing continuous integration systems to support the ongoing work. He also plans to add additional features and to polish up the kernel using these compiler technologies. 

Chancellor has worked on the Linux kernel for over four years. His mainline Linux contribution started two years ago under the ClangBuiltLinux project, which is a collaborative effort to get the Linux kernel building with Clang and LLVM compiler tools. He stated that he hopes more people will start using the LLVM compiler because “it will go a long way towards improving Linux security for everyone.” 

Meanwhile, Silva’s security work is dedicated to eliminating several classes of buffer overflows by transforming all instances of zero-length and one-element arrays into flexible-array members. He is also focusing on fixing bugs and helping develop defense mechanisms that cut off whole classes of vulnerabilities. 

“Ensuring the security of the Linux kernel is extremely important as it’s a critical part of modern computing and infrastructure. It requires us all to assist in any way we can to ensure that it is sustainably secure,” said David A. Wheeler, the director of open-source supply chain security at the Linux Foundation. “We extend a special thanks to Google for underwriting Gustavo and Nathan’s Linux kernel security development work along with a thank you to all the maintainers, developers and organizations who have made the Linux kernel a collaborative global success.”