Patchwork is a web-based patch tracking system designed to facilitate the contribution and management of contributions to an open-source project. Patches that have been sent to a mailing list - the linux-mips list in this case - are 'caught' by the system, and appear on a web page. Any comments posted that reference the patch are appended to the patch page too.
The project's maintainer can then scan through the list of patches, marking each with a certain state, such as Accepted, Rejected or Under Review. Old patches can be sent to the archive or deleted. A patch submitter can change the status of his patches for example when finding a bug or submitting a new version.
Why is patchwork a good thing?
It allows a maintainer to keep a good overview over all the pending patches. Unlike many previous systems that were implemented or suggested it doesn't get into the way of established patch submission and handling practices but rather provides a tool to automate a part of necessary procedures.
What does patchworks mean for patch submissions?
Patchwork is keeping track of patches that have been posted to the linux-mips mailing list only but not of patches that have been sent in private to anybody. Beyond that it's largely up to the patch submitter. For a submitter who doesn't use patchwork things will work the same way they used to work.
Thanks to patchwork patches don't just get dropped on the floor anymore so as long as your patches are still listed in patchwork please do not resend patches. It only causes confusion as to which version of a patch is current or what changed since the last submission. If it's in patchwork it's not been lost, that easy. If a patch is no longer listed as in New or Under Review state and you think you don't know why, then ask. Generally when a patch is applied a brief email is sent out. If the discussion of a patch on the mailing list comes to the conclusion that further changes are needed or that for general reasons a patch is not desirable, the patch status with be set to Rejected or Changes Requested. A status of Other maintainer / subsystem indicates that a patch either is not for the MIPS kernel code or that for some reason such as conflicts with other patches it has been decided that a particular patch should be handled by another maintainer.
What new advanced features does patchwork offer to submitters?
Submitters can create an account on patchworks. They can change the status of their patches - which are identified as theirs by the submitter's email address - for example when they wish withdraw a patch because it was found faulty or are about to send a better revision.
There is also a feature to create patch bundles from several patches which then can be downloaded as a single download.
Which patches are tracked in patchwork?
Patchwork was installed on linux-mips.org in October 2009. The linux-mips list archives back to June 2009 were fed into patchworks, then manually walked through the hundreds of patches to ensure all patches have been handled.
Security and other confidential patches
Thousands of patches have already been tracked of patchwork and patchwork makes sure patches don't get dropped even if they can't be reviewed, commented on, rejected or applied immediately. So not putting the linux-mips mailing list on cc is frowned upon. However if for some reason - for example a critical security hole - you think a patch should be treated confidential and not be tracked in patchwork, feel free to mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.