Although it is likely that many users will not notice the improvements afforded by the removal of the final dependencies on the Big Kernel Lock code or the improvements to Ext4, in the long term such changes are important and will ensure that Linux runs smoothly and quickly on the high end systems of today and on the standard servers of tomorrow.
The expected basics of Xen Dom0 operation are very welcome and the Xen developers have done a lot of work, but much remains to be done for Xen support to reach the level that the commercial Xen products currently provide. It's possible that before that happens more people will switch from Xen to KVM, which many kernel developers prefer.
End users should appreciate the many new features in drivers for wireless, storage, and graphics hardware. These new features highlight that there is still much to do before the kernel properly supports some now quite common hardware components.
Kernel trends: Outlook on 2.6.38
Directly following the release of 2.6.37, the first, usually two-week long, merge window phase of the Linux kernel development cycle commences, during which the kernel developers team incorporate 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 – including the text in the above-mentioned patches to improve performance and scalability of the VFS.
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.
The inclusion of an appropriate driver rtl8192ce for Realtek wireless chips now seems fairly certain. it's also noted that within the framework of open-mesh.org the development of Mesh Protocol Batman (Better Approach To Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking) has moved to a mature phase in the staging area and this should now move to the regular network subsystem in 2.6.38.
It should probably be mentioned that the LIO Multi-protocol Storage Target may come to the kernel. This could be the case if the alternative and similar SCST (SCSI target subsystem for Linux) is left out – some of the SCST developers had applied for their solution to be included in the the kernel, but so far they have not been successful.
Still uncertain is whether, as the Xen developers have been hoping for the past few weeks, it will be possible to create a complete operating Xen Dom0 back end in 2.6.38. There is a good chance of integrating the RAID456 Target for the device mapper, already proposed for inclusion in 2.6.37. Most likely, the patches, which increase the reaction speed of desktop applications in certain situations where the kernel automatically creates process groups will be included in 2.6.38.
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 2.6.37 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 2.6.38" mini series. A release of 2.6.38 in late March or early April seems likely at this point in time. A detailed summary of the major changes in 2.6.38 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 Identi.ca 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 Identi.ca and Twitter via "@kernellogauthor".