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Fresh driver package for Intel GPUs

The developers of the graphics drivers for the graphics chips used in many Intel chip-sets and processors have released the "Intel 2011Q1" driver package. The package includes all the components that are required to provide proper Linux support for Intel graphics chips. This includes kernel version 2.6.38 complete with various patches, Mesa 7.10.2, libdrm 2.4.25 and version 2.15.0 of the X.org driver; the new versions of the latter two Linux graphics stack components had only just been released by an Intel programmer who is involved in the development of these components. The package also includes the libva – an implementation of the Video Acceleration API (VAAPI) that allows applications to hand over video data decoding and encoding tasks to the graphics chip.

Two of the major changes can therefore be found in this area, as the driver package allows the decoding of VC1 videos and the encoding via H.264 to be shifted to the graphics core of Intel's "Sandy Bridge" processors – which were introduced by Intel as part of the Core i3-2000, Core i5-2000 and Core i7-2000 processor families in early 2011. The drivers reportedly also offer improved support of these processors' GPU power management features and are said to enhance performance with the current developer version of Mesa.

Furthermore, the latest version of the libdrm offers a frame buffer interface that also impacts other graphics drivers; it reportedly simplifies the design of Plymouth, an application which provides the animation during system start in the current versions of distributions such as Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Kernel version status

Earlier this week, Paul Gortmaker released long-term kernel version 2.6.34.9. Unlike Greg Kroah-Hartman, who maintains long-term kernel versions 2.6.32 and 2.6.33 as well as the stable kernels, Gortmaker does point out that the new kernel version includes various security fixes. However, some of the holes have long been fixed in other series by the kernel hackers – for example the hole in the Econet protocol that was fixed last December.

Last week, Kroah-Hartman released stable kernel version 2.6.38.3 which, like all other stable and long-term kernels, offers bug fixes and harmless minor changes. However, bugs do get introduced sometimes – this was, for instance, the case in the recently released versions 2.6.32.37 and 2.6.33.10; but the problem was soon detected and fixed in 2.6.32.38 and 2.6.33.11.

Shortly after the latest regular Kernel Log was published, Andi Kleen released a new version in long-term series 2.6.35, which he maintains. Like Paul Gortmaker, Kleen also points out that this version fixes security issues.

During the night of Monday 18 April, Linus Torvalds published the fourth pre-release of Linux 2.6.39. He mentioned that there have been more changes between RC3 and RC4 than in the previous step; but that version and the one before it had unusually few changes, as was already mentioned in the first part of the "What's coming in 2.6.39" mini series.

In brief

Kernel

  • Rafael J. Wysocki has recently issued the latest edition of the regression reports he tends to produce on a weekly basis. The developer reports that Linux 2.6.39-rc3-git7 contains 10 known bugs that didn't exist in 2.6.38; the recently created snapshot of the main development branch reportedly also contains 28 other bugs that were introduced between the release of 2.6.37 and 2.6.38.
  • On the LKML, Andreas Schwab recently offered a Git usage tip which might be useful to Kernel Log readers: in current versions of Git, "git tag --contains <commitid>" reveals the kernel version in which a specific commit was introduced.

Graphics hardware support

  • Jeremy Huddleston has released version 1.10.1 of X.org's X Server to fix various bugs.
  • NVIDIA has issued a further pre-release of a new graphics driver version that supports, for example, the series 400 and 500 desktop and mobile graphics chips; it also fixes a bug that caused X Server to crash after 49.7 days on 32-bit systems.
  • Just after the publication of the latest regular Kernel Log, AMD made version 11.3 of its proprietary graphics drivers that are known as Catalyst/Fglrx available to download. The version offers "early look" support for OpenSuse 11.4. According to the release notes, this driver version requires at least X.org 6.9; on the web site, which has probably not been updated yet, X.org 6.7 is still listed as the minimum requirement. The driver doesn't work with the series 1.10 X Servers; this support will reportedly only become available with the version that is expected in May.
  • Matthew Garrett published a simple KMS driver for the Cirrus grahics chip that qemu-kvm typically emulates.

Kernel environment ("plumbing layer"), userland drivers, developer tools, etc.

New editions of Kernel Logs are also mentioned on Identi.ca and Twitter via "@kernellog2". The Kernel Log author also posts updates about various topics on Identi.ca and Twitter via "@kernellogauthor".

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