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Linux kernel 2.6

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  • Linux kernel 2.6

    COMPETENT OBSERVERS of the Linux kernel development process have reported what we can expect in the next production releases of Linux.
    An explanatory summary that should be accessible for most people in the IT industry is available here, by Joseph Pranevich, and a rather more concise overview for the core minimalists and more technically inclined audience among us is available here, by Dave Jones.

    Neither of these writers has gone out of their way to extol the virtues of the changes that will appear in the next version of the Linux kernel, but even a casual read makes it clear that big advances will show up. Improvements in Linux 2.6 will benefit platforms ranging from embedded, near real-time devices to very large multi-CPU SMP and HPC systems, all using the same Linux kernel running on multiple system architectures.

    Here are the headings in Joe Pranevich's excellent and detailed summary entitled "The Wonderful World of Linux 2.6":

    The Story So Far...

    Multiple Platform Support
    Scaling Down -- Linux for Embedded Systems
    Opteron Support - 64-bit Linux for the Consumer
    Subarchitecture Support
    Scaling Up -- NUMA and Bigger Iron

    Linux Internals
    Size Matters -- Scalability Improvements
    Kernel Interactivity and Responsiveness
    Module Subsystem - Device Drivers
    Other Improvements

    Unified Device Model
    Kernel Object Abstraction
    The System Filesystem

    Core Hardware Support
    Internal Device Busses
    External Device Busses
    Wireless Devices

    Block Device Support
    Storage Busses

    Input / Output Devices
    Human Interface Devices

    Software Improvements
    Network Filesystems

    Miscellaneous Features
    Virtualizing Linux
    Legacy Support

    Stuff At The Bottom....

    It's impossible to emphasize a single area of Linux advances, since all of these are likely to be important to someone. However, it is perhaps worth noting that several major functions of the Linux kernel have been completely rewritten. In fact, it's almost all revised. Quite a list!

    You'll have to read the articles linked to see if something you'll care deeply about is being changed. But if you're using Linux and you haven't been involved in writing the 2.5 development kernel, now might be a good time to get involved with wringing out pre-production Linux 2.6 kernel code -- if only to find out whether it runs well on your platforms and works well with your applications, and possibly provide feedback to the kernel development team if you find any bugs, so they will get fixed.

    The competition took about ten years to produce Windows Server 2003, but it's still insecure (as evidenced by the recent exploits discovered) and still pointy-clicky, to put it nicely. In contrast, Linux appears to be on track with massive revisions and significant advances to be delivered to all of us within about another six months or so, when it's ready.

    The Inquirer

  • #2
    New Linux version expected in December

    The 2.6 version of the Linux core is expected in December and will be much more stable on arrival than its predecessor, according to the programmer in charge of the software.

    The current test version, 2.6.0-test10, should be the last, and 2.6.0 itself will emerge by the end of the year "unless the wheels fall off in a serious manner," 2.6 overseer Andrew Morton said in an interview Tuesday.

    The 2.6 Linux core, called the kernel, brings major changes compared with the 2.4 version currently sold by companies such as Red Hat and SuSE Linux. One significant improvement is the ability to take advantage of the powerful servers with numerous processors, a market where Unix is popular today and which Microsoft also is trying to crack.

    "The 2.4 kernel really does begin to run out of steam at four or eight CPUs," Morton said. "With 2.6, I'd be surprised if there is anything preventing it from scaling to 32."

    Linux is based on Unix. But unlike Unix, Linux grew popular on widely used and low-priced Intel-based computers. It first became popular among corporate customers on lower-end servers, but running on higher-end servers will let Linux supplant more of the Unix market.

    A large number of often self-appointed programmers create Linux by collaborating and sharing the source code that underlies the software. This open-source development process contrasts starkly with the proprietary controls that govern Linux competitors such as Unix and Windows. But one thing is similar with the two approaches: delays.

    Linus Torvalds, who founded and still leads the Linux programming project, said last year he hoped 2.6.0 would emerge in June. Similar schedule slips afflicted the 2.4 kernel, which was released in January 2001.

    Morton is one of Torvalds' key right-hand men, called "maintainers," responsible for various sections of Linux; Morton's domain is the 2.6 kernel itself. Both programmers currently are employed by an industry-funded consortium called the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL).

    Morton believes the 2.6.0 kernel will be much better tested when it arrives than 2.4.0. "I think 2.6.0-test10 is about the same level of maturity that 2.4.17" was, he said. "We're a lot farther down the track than we were with 2.4."

    Not all agree, however. SuSE Chief Technology Officer Juergen Geck said in an October interview that he expects the deeper architectural changes coming with 2.6 mean that more problems will surface.

    There typically is a lag between when a new kernel arrives and when it appears in products. Red Hat, the top Linux seller, waited until 2.4.2 before selling a product with the new kernel.

    Red Hat tests newer technology in its "Fedora Core" releases; the main purpose of Fedora Core 2 will be to introduce and improve the 2.6 kernel before it's included in the slower-moving Red Hat Enterprise Linux product, which likely won't get the 2.6 kernel until 2005.

    Red Hat and SuSE have been bringing several features from the 2.6 kernel to the 2.4 kernel in their products, a process called "backporting." In addition, the commercial kernels have other patches that make them different from the standard versions Torvalds posts at

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