While Linux 3.2 offered a slightly greater number of changes than previous versions, the developers have returned to their usual number with Linux 3.3. Numerous changes to the network subsystem – teaming, Open vSwitch, buffer bloat prevention and various others – demonstrate that there is still room for improvement even in well-established areas such as the network stack. Like the new features for resizing Ext4 filesystems and the hot replace support for the software RAID code, however, these new additions are mainly relevant for the administrators of large data centres.
Home users are most likely to benefit from the numerous new and improved drivers. In Linux 3.3, the kernel developers may finally have managed to fix all the major issues that previously caused considerable system disruption when the kernel was writing to slow storage devices – on the PC workstation that was used to write these lines, the problem has disappeared with Linux 3.3, at least.
Kernel trends for Linux 3.4
Directly following the release of Linux 3.3, the first, usually two-week long merge window of the Linux kernel development cycle commences, during which the kernel developers 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.
For instance, the Hyper-V storage drivers are scheduled to leave the staging area. As on various occasions in the past few months, there is now further evidence that the Uprobes userspace tracing solution may be integrated in the next Linux version; however, this time indications are slightly more defined. The well-known kernel developer Peter Zijlstra, as well as Ingo Molnar, the developer who maintains the tracing and performance monitoring code, have both looked at the Uprobes patches; after a few modifications, Molnar has added several patches to one of his development branches incorporated into linux-next, the kernel tree in which the kernel hackers are co-ordinating their changes for Linux 3.4 (1, 2, 3). This branch also contains the patches to implement the x32 ABI, which allows users to benefit from the advantages of 64-bit x86 processors while avoiding the overhead that comes with 64-bit operation.
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 (3.3.y), which should, over the next few weeks, fix a few bugs that testers missed during development or which hackers could not fix in time for the release of Linux 3.3. 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 3.4" mini-series. A release of 3.4 in mid or late May seems likely at this point in time. A detailed summary of the major changes in 3.4 will then be published on The H Open in a Kernel Log like this one.
Facts and figures for the latest versions of the Linux Kernel
8938 files changed
10315 files changed
9673 files changed
11154 files changed
8889 files changed
9202 files changed
11104 files changed,
9133 files changed,
10985 files changed,
7946 files changed,
9181 files changed,
12608 files changed,
10698 files changed,
¹ find . -type f -not -regex '\./\.git/.*' | wc -l
² find . -type f -not -regex '\./\.git.*' | xargs cat | wc -l (find . -name *.[hcS] -not -regex '\./\.git.*' | xargs cat | wc -l)
³ git-log --no-merges --pretty=oneline v3.(x-1)..v3.(x) | wc -l
⁴ git diff --shortstat v3.(x-1)..v3.(x)
Linux 3.3 download
The source code is offered as tar archive compressed with Gzip, Bzip2, or XZ. The authenticity of the uncompressed tarball can be verified with a signature file that is shipped alongside it – for example, the process for Linux 3.1 would be performed with commands like this:
[thl@thl tmp]$ wget --quiet \
[thl@thl tmp]$ xz -d linux-3.1.tar.xz
[thl@thl tmp]$ gpg --verify linux-3.1.tar.sign
gpg: Signature made Mon Oct 24 09:17:58 2011 CEST using RSA key ID 00411886
gpg: Good signature from "Linus Torvalds <firstname.lastname@example.org>"
gpg: WARNING: This key is not certified with a trusted signature!
gpg: There is no indication that the signature belongs to the owner.
Primary key fingerprint: ABAF 11C6 5A29 70B1 30AB E3C4 79BE 3E43 0041 1886
Further background information about the developments in the Linux kernel area can be found using the search function at The H Open Source. Information about previous Linux kernel releases can be found in The H's Linux Kernel History. New editions of Kernel Logs are also mentioned on Identi.ca and Twitter by @kernellog2. The Kernel Log author also posts updates about various topics on Identi.ca and Twitter as @kernellogauthor.