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11 August 2010, 16:19

Kernel Log: 2.6.36 development and new stable kernels and drivers

by Thorsten Leemhuis

While Linux 2.6.36 development continues apace, a number of new stable releases iron out various quirks in previous versions. New versions of PowerTop and graphics drivers for AMD and NVIDIA graphics chips offer numerous enhancements and bug fixes.

The road to Linux 2.6.36

Less than 48 hours after last Monday's release of Linux 2.6.35, Linus Torvalds commenced the process of merging in the major changes destined for kernel version 2.6.36. By this morning (Tuesday), he had undertaken 5,859 commits, adding 474,097 and removing 376,182 lines of code from 6680 files. As anticipated, these changes included security framework AppArmor. Less well anticipated was the decision to hold off on merging the Yama Security Module. Kernel hackers have merged the concurrency managed workqueue patches and an lirc interface for the infrared remote control subsystem introduced in 2.6.35.

There is also a new intelligent power sharing (IPS) driver. This allows graphics chips in some mobile Intel Westmere processors – such as the Core i5 – to over-clock (thus delivering better graphics performance) when low loads on the x86 CPU processor cores mean that the processor is not utilising its full thermal budget. Support for KMS on NVIDIA's Fermi graphics chips (in use in new graphics cards since March), though still very new and rather rudimentary, may also make it into the Nouveau driver in 2.6.36 – the merge window will remain open until the end of this, or start of, next week, with release scheduled for October.

Linux version status

This week Greg Kroah-Hartman followed up with the stable kernels,,, and There are, as usual, no clear statements that those versions fix security problems or other severe bugs, but the statements in the mails announcing the new releases differ slightly. Users of the 2.6.27 kernel series are "very strongly encouraged" to upgrade; users of 2.6.32 are just "strongly encouraged" and for the two others it's just a "should".

A fix for a bug in 2.6.35 which causes increased power consumption will not make it into, but will have to wait for the next version. There is also an outstanding performance problem in the Btrfs code in Linux 2.6.35 – the main Btrfs developer is in the process of tracking down the cause and preparing a fix for the problem, which only arises under certain configurations.

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