Kernel Log: X Server 1.11, new kernel maintenance strategy
by Thorsten Leemhuis
New Intel graphics drivers for X.org already support the Ivy Bridge family of processors that is expected to become available early next year. In future, a new Linux version will be selected on an annual basis to become a long-term kernel with two years of support. Material from LinuxCon 2011 Vancouver provides development background on such topics as USB support, KVM and Wi-Fi drivers.
Intel developer and X veteran Keith Packard released version 1.11.0 of X.org's X Server. The version doesn't offer any major advancements; the developers have primarily fixed bugs and incorporated minor improvements. As with almost every new version in the X Server's main development branch, the new version makes changes to the driver ABI; however, the latest beta versions of NVIDIA's proprietary drivers apparently support them; occasionally, the "IgnoreABI" option in Xorg.conf can persuade incompatible drivers to cooperate.
A few days earlier, Chris Wilson had created version 2.16.0 of the xf86-video-intel X.org driver, but did not announce it. This version is part of the "Intel 2011Q3 Graphics Package" that was released shortly thereafter. It offers "alpha support" for the Ivy Bridge family of processors that Intel is expected to introduce under its "Core" brand in early 2012. The new package also supports H.264 encoding and offers stability and performance improvements for the current Sandy Bridge generation of Core processors.
In mid-August, Greg Kroah-Hartman presented various strategic ideas concerning the maintenance of "longterm" kernels for discussion. The maintainer said that he plans to pick one kernel version each year and maintain it as a longterm kernel for two years; this would mean that he'll always be maintaining two long-term kernels at the same time. No changes are planned for maintaining the stable series: the stable kernels will continue to provide corrections for the latest mainline kernel; once a new version (for example Linux 3.1) is released, the maintenance of its precursor (3.0) will be discontinued after a short transition period.
The kernel versions that are selected for long-term maintenance shouldn't be picked at a specific date, Kroah-Hartman said; rather he thinks that a version which has proved itself should be selected for long-term maintenance each year. The decision will also take into account whether any companies/major users are relying on a specific kernel version.