40 Variability Bugs in the Linux Kernel: A Qualitative Study

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisReportResearch


Feature-sensitive verification is a recent field that pursues the effective analysis of the exponential number of variants of a program family. Today researchers lack examples of concrete bugs induced by variability, and occurring in real large-scale software. Such a collection of bugs is a requirement for goal-oriented research, serving to evaluate tool implementations of feature-sensitive analyses by testing them on real bugs. We present a qualitative study of 40 variability bugs collected from bug-fixing commits to the Linux kernel repository. We investigate each of the 40 bugs, recording the outcome of our analysis into a database. In addition, we provide self-contained simplified C99 versions of the bugs, facilitating understanding and tool evaluation. Our study provides insights about the nature and occurrence of variability bugs in a large C software system, and shows in what ways variability affects and increases the complexity of software bugs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7949-318-6
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
SeriesITU Technical Report Series


  • Feature-Sensitive Verification
  • Variability Bugs
  • Linux Kernel
  • Bug Analysis
  • Software Complexity


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