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Summary of 2.6.33

The Nouveau driver for GeForce graphics hardware and the improvements to the KMS graphics drivers for AMD/ATI and Intel GPUs are not only among the most important, but also among the most notable changes, as KMS is used by more and more Linux distributions and will probably soon become a standard. While the new kernel's improved discard support and the related ATA Trim support tend to work quietly in the background and, like the Nouveau driver, still need to mature, increasingly attractive SSD prices mean that they are important components to ensure that Linux will run properly on the systems of today and of tomorrow.

Newly integrated into the main development branch of Linux, the DRBD replication solution is likely to become considerably more attractive to system administrators. The kernel's tracing features, which currently evolve a bit further with every new version of Linux, are also generating an increasing amount of interest among administrators and developers.

Facts and figures about the latest versions of the Linux kernel

Linux version No. of files1 Rows of source2 (Without documentation) Days No. of commits3 Changes4
2.6.26 24270 9411724
88 9941 8676 files changed
595393 insertions(+)
416143 deletions(-)
2.6.27 24354 9709868
88 10628 15127 files changed
1131171 insertions(+)
912939 deletions(-)
2.6.28 25255 10195507
76 9048 11090 files changed
975689 insertions(+)
490047 deletions(-)
2.6.29 26668 11010647
89 11718 10933 files changed
1347290 insertions(+)
532055 deletions(-)
2.6.30 27879 11637173
78 11989 10259 files changed
1086737 insertions(+)
460298 deletions(-)
2.6.31 29111 12046317
92 10883 8938 files changed
914135 insertions(+)
504980 deletions(-)
2.6.32 30485 12606910
84 10998 10315 files changed
1092987 insertions(+)
530428 deletions(-)
2.6.335 31565 12990041
83 10871 9673 files changed
859458 insertions(+)
479452 deletions(-)
¹ find . -type f -not -regex '\./\.git/.*' | wc -l
² find . -type f -not -regex '\./\.git.*' | xargs cat | wc -l (find . -name *.[hcS] -not -regex '\./\.git.*' | xargs cat | wc -l)
³ git-log --no-merges --pretty=oneline v2.6.(x-1)..v2.6.(x) | wc -l
⁴ git diff --shortstat v2.6.(x-1)..v2.6.(x)
⁵ As of 24. Feb 20:30:00 CET 2010

Kernel trends: Outlook on 2.6.34

Linux kernel development cycle

Thanks to the open development process and a long perusal of the tea leaves, The H and the Linux Weather Forecast maintained by the Linux Foundation are already in a position to talk about some of the new features likely to be part of the next kernel increment when a new kernel version is released.

Directly following the release of 2.6.33, the first, usually two-week long, merge window phase of the Linux kernel development cycle commences, during which the kernel development team incorporate the many changes for the next version of the kernel into the main development branch. Numerous changes, some of which we have already mentioned, have already been prepared for this first phase of the next development cycle.

Quite certain is the integration of further improvements to the KMS drivers for graphics chips by AMD, Intel and NVIDIA – for instance some changes designed to improve the use of the power saving features offered by modern Radeon graphics hardware or a basic KMS driver for AMD's Evergreen GPUs, which are used on the Radeon 5000 series of graphics cards introduced last autumn. The changes prepared by the KVM developers provide first parts of a Hyper-V emulation, improved operation with large guest systems and the support of 1 GB pages with Intel CPUs.

Not quite as certain, but still relatively likely is the integration of LZMA support in SquashFS – it is eagerly awaited by the developers of several distributions who hope to include more software on live CDs using its more efficient compression. As yet uncertain seems the integration of several patch series developed by Windriver developer Jason Wessel to extend the kernel's debugging features (1, 2, 3). The developers of Fanotify, of the Ceph distributed file system and of the AlacrityVM hypervisor, which is designed specifically for High Performance Computing (HPC) and real-time applications, are likely to make another integration attempt in 2.6.34 after Torvalds chose not to integrate their code in 2.6.33.

The Kernel Log in The H Open will, as usual, be reporting on the major changes integrated into the next kernel version in a "Coming in 2.6.34" mini series. In addition, the regular Kernel Log will summarise other developments in the Linux kernel field – these include new versions of the stable kernel series (2.6.x.y), which should, over the next few weeks, fix the odd bug or two overlooked by hackers and testers during 2.6.33 development.

Assuming that the kernel developers stick to their usual rhythm, Torvalds is likely to release Linux version 2.6.34 in May. A detailed summary of the major changes in 2.6.34 will then be published on The H Open in a Kernel Log like this one.


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