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10 June 2009, 09:34

Fine tuning

What's new in Linux 2.6.30

Medium Tux KL

by Thorsten Leemhuis

Although it wasn't explicitly planned this way, a whole lot of the changes made in the new kernel version have an impact on file systems and data storage. There are, however, also plenty of changes elsewhere, for example faster booting, more efficient compression algorithms and hundreds of new and improved drivers.

After eight release candidates and a rather short development cycle, Linus Torvalds has released Linux version 2.6.30, dubbed the "Man-Eating Seals of Antiquity". Following its sabbatical in 2.6.29, Tux the Linux penguin has resumed its position as Linux mascot, relieving Tuz the Tasmanian Devil of its duties.

Like its predecessors in the main development line of Linux, kernel version 2.6.30 offers a vast number of changes. This time, the majority can be found in the code that deals with data storage. Some of the changes, for instance, improve the data security of the still evolving Ext4 at the expense of performance – sharp-sighted critics may remark, however, that changes to the Ext3 code in 2.6.30 may produce the opposite result if users aren't careful when configuring the kernel.

Version 2.6.30 of the Linux kernel supports two additional file systems and offers more flexibility for reshaping software RAIDs; in addition, some of the changes to the crypto code aim at increasing the data throughput in encrypted storage media. Kernel image and initramfs can now be compressed with Bzip2 or LZMA and require less storage space.

After two only moderately successful attempts to increase the kernel's start-up speed by simultaneously initialising various subsystems, this feature has finally been given the go ahead in 2.6.30. As usual, hundreds of new and improved drivers considerably improve hardware support and occasionally integrate features that previously lay idle under Linux. Several changes to the PCI and power management code aim at making system hibernation (standby/suspend) work more robustly than before.

The following offers an overview of these and many other important changes in Linux 2.6.30. These changes will eventually also affect users who don't handle the kernel of their Linux systems, because future Linux distributions will include the new kernel version (or one of its successors).

Next: Ext4 data security, performance and more

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