I'm always impressed to read stories of very simplistic bits of work going on in the linux kernel. It's encouraging that such maintenance-style work exists: it suggests that a beginner has plenty of simple jobs to do in order to get acquainted with the code.
Good examples are where people have basically implemented their own copy of a common C library routine in their module. When a certain critical mass is reached, it's worth implementing this as an exported function and cleaning up all the private copies.
Last year, strdup was fixed in this manner, removing at least 9
independent implementations. More recently, Boolean definitions were added to
include/linux/kernel.h, cleaning up 65 independent
It's just a shame that the people involved in these patches (Andrew Morton, Robert Love, Rusty Russell) are seasoned kernel hackers, not newbies.