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Overview of 2.6.36

Despite its almost unchanged size and its relatively short development time, Linux 2.6.36 yet again offers a range of improvements. Linux users are likely to benefit particularly from the optimisations and bug fixes in the memory management area, and from the faster response times. Furthermore, the future of the AppArmor extension used, for instance, in Ubuntu, looks far rosier, now that AppArmor has been integrated into the main development branch.

As usual, many new and improved drivers are set to have strong short-term as well as long-term effects – such as the extended support of USB and IR hardware. In the long run, the developers may also make something of the perhaps slightly exotic-looking KDB shell, which is currently only available via Intel's KMS driver and simplifies troubleshooting for advanced users and system administrators.

Kernel trends: Coming in 2.6.37

Directly following the release of 2.6.36, the first, merge window phase of the Linux kernel development cycle commences again. Usually this phase takes a full two weeks, but this time around it is likely to take only ten days. During this phase the kernel development team incorporates the many changes for the next version of the kernel into the main development branch. Numerous changes have already been prepared for this first phase of the next development cycle. Among them are some we have already mentioned, like the "VFS scalability patches".

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 version of the kernel.

Further improvements that may make it into 2.3.7 include numerous changes to the file system code and the block layer code. These changes allow write barriers to be handled differently internally and be used less frequently, which promises to improve performance; background information can be found in an article on It is also likely that the developers will introduce patches that allow users to compile a kernel which doesn't require the Big Kernel Lock (BKL); more details are available in another article on

Also in preparation are extensions to the Radeon and Nouveau KMS drivers that will enable these drivers to support the KDB shell, which is only available via Intel's KMS drivers in 2.6.36. The staging area is to include the r8712u driver for RTL8192 USB chips; the carl9170 driver is set to replace the otus driver (staging area) and the ar9170usb driver. The Linux main development branch is planned to include driver code for Apple's Magic Trackpad. Major changes to the udlfb DisplayLink driver are also in preparation -- however, this driver will remain in the staging area for the time being.

The coming days will reveal which of these changes will actually be incorporated into the main development branch by Torvalds. As usual, the Kernel Log will summarise these and other developments in the Linux kernel field – including new point releases 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 2.6.36 development.

In addition, 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 2.6.37" mini series. A release of 2.6.37 early next year seems likely at this point in time. A detailed summary of the major changes in 2.6.37 will then be published on The H Open in a Kernel Log like this one.

Further background information about the developments in the Linux kernel area can be found in the archives or by using by using the search function at The H Open Source. New editions of Kernel Logs are also mentioned on and Twitter via "@kernellog2". The Kernel Log author also posts updates about various topics which eventually tend to find their way into the Kernel Log on and Twitter via "@kernellogauthor".


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