This document describes the kernel script

1 Introduction

Checkpatch (scripts/ is a perl script which checks for trivial style violations in patches and optionally corrects them. Checkpatch can also be run on file contexts and without the kernel tree.

It should be noted that checkpatch may not be always right. At times the human judgement should take preference over what checkpatch has to say. If your code looks better with the violations, then its probably best left alone.

2 Options

This section will describe the options checkpatch can be run with.


./scripts/ [OPTION]... [FILE]...

Available options:

  • -q, –quiet

    Enable quiet mode.

  • -v, –verbose Enable verbose mode. Additional verbose test descriptions are output so as to provide information on why that particular message is shown.

  • –no-tree

    Run checkpatch without the kernel tree.

  • –no-signoff

    Disable the ‘Signed-off-by’ line check. The sign-off is a simple line at the end of the explanation for the patch, which certifies that you wrote it or otherwise have the right to pass it on as an open-source patch.


    Signed-off-by: Random J Developer <>

    Setting this flag effectively stops a message for a missing signed-off-by line in a patch context.

  • –patch

    Treat FILE as a patch. This is the default option and need not be explicitly specified.

  • –emacs

    Set output to emacs compile window format. This allows emacs users to jump from the error in the compile window directly to the offending line in the patch.

  • –terse

    Output only one line per report.

  • –showfile

    Show the diffed file position instead of the input file position.

  • -g, –git

    Treat FILE as a single commit or a git revision range.

    Single commit with:

    • <rev>

    • <rev>^

    • <rev>~n

    Multiple commits with:

    • <rev1>..<rev2>

    • <rev1>…<rev2>

    • <rev>-<count>

  • -f, –file

    Treat FILE as a regular source file. This option must be used when running checkpatch on source files in the kernel.

  • –subjective, –strict

    Enable stricter tests in checkpatch. By default the tests emitted as CHECK do not activate by default. Use this flag to activate the CHECK tests.

  • –list-types

    Every message emitted by checkpatch has an associated TYPE. Add this flag to display all the types in checkpatch.

    Note that when this flag is active, checkpatch does not read the input FILE, and no message is emitted. Only a list of types in checkpatch is output.

  • –types TYPE(,TYPE2…)

    Only display messages with the given types.


    ./scripts/ mypatch.patch --types EMAIL_SUBJECT,NO_AUTHOR_SIGN_OFF
  • –ignore TYPE(,TYPE2…)

    Strip off messages with the given types.


    ./scripts/ mypatch.patch --ignore EMAIL_SUBJECT,NO_AUTHOR_SIGN_OFF
  • –show-types

    By default checkpatch doesn’t display the type associated with the messages. Set this flag to show the message type in the output.

  • –max-line-length=n

    Set the max line length (default 100). On exceeding the given length, a message is emitted.

    The message level is different for patch and file contexts. For patches, a WARNING is emitted. While a milder CHECK is emitted for files. So for file contexts, the –strict flag must also be enabled.

  • –min-conf-desc-length=n

    Set the min description length, if shorter, warn.

  • –tab-size=n

    Set the number of spaces for tab (default 8).

  • –root=PATH

    PATH to the kernel tree root.

    This option must be specified when invoking checkpatch from outside the kernel root.

  • –no-summary

    Suppress the per file summary.

  • –mailback

    Only produce a report in case of Warnings or Errors. Milder Checks are excluded from this.

  • –summary-file

    Include the filename in summary.

  • –debug KEY=[0|1]

    Turn on/off debugging of KEY, where KEY is one of ‘values’, ‘possible’, ‘type’, and ‘attr’ (default is all off).

  • –fix

    This is an EXPERIMENTAL feature. If correctable errors exists, a file <inputfile>.EXPERIMENTAL-checkpatch-fixes is created which has the automatically fixable errors corrected.

  • –fix-inplace

    EXPERIMENTAL - Similar to –fix but the input file is overwritten with fixes.

    DO NOT USE this flag unless you are absolutely sure and you have a backup in place.

  • –ignore-perl-version

    Override checking of perl version. Runtime errors maybe encountered after enabling this flag if the perl version does not meet the minimum specified.

  • –codespell

    Use the codespell dictionary for checking spelling errors.

  • –codespellfile

    Use the specified codespell file. Default is ‘/usr/share/codespell/dictionary.txt’.

  • –typedefsfile

    Read additional types from this file.

  • –color[=WHEN]

    Use colors ‘always’, ‘never’, or only when output is a terminal (‘auto’). Default is ‘auto’.

  • –kconfig-prefix=WORD

    Use WORD as a prefix for Kconfig symbols (default is CONFIG_).

  • -h, –help, –version

    Display the help text.

3 Message Levels

Messages in checkpatch are divided into three levels. The levels of messages in checkpatch denote the severity of the error. They are:


    This is the most strict level. Messages of type ERROR must be taken seriously as they denote things that are very likely to be wrong.


    This is the next stricter level. Messages of type WARNING requires a more careful review. But it is milder than an ERROR.


    This is the mildest level. These are things which may require some thought.

4 Type Descriptions

This section contains a description of all the message types in checkpatch.


Vertical space is wasted given the limited number of lines an editor window can display when multiple blank lines are used.


The patch is missing a Signed-off-by line. A signed-off-by line should be added according to Developer’s certificate of Origin. ref: Submitting patches: the essential guide to getting your code into the kernel


The author of the patch has not signed off the patch. It is required that a simple sign off line should be present at the end of explanation of the patch to denote that the author has written it or otherwise has the rights to pass it on as an open source patch.


Trailing whitespace should always be removed. Some editors highlight the trailing whitespace and cause visual distractions when editing files.