and they will still need those private keys, as far as i can see. so you need to send them over what, email...?
So, you get the tried-and-true security flow of public keys within SSH.
As for the user/group management, gitolite lets you provide access to various repos (with settable read, read/write, read/write/+ permissions) to individuals identified by the public key files you've received from your Git contributors.
Not sure if that's what you were wondering but we've had a fairly easy time providing secure access to our own private Git repos using gitolite.
Server-side hooks are going to be an interesting problem to solve for kernel.org.
what i am asking about is the central generation of private keys. that is not necessary for gitolite. the normal (secure) process is to have users provide their public keys.
what i would like to know is how kernel.org generating private keys for users (in one central location, and then, i assume, distributing them) can be "more secure".
There are a couple of web admin panels that can sit in front of gitolite and manage keys, repos and permissions. I've not tried any of them but hopefully someone is looking into that. Makes a lot more sense than generating key pairs and distributing private keys to everyone.