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05 January 2009, 17:29

Kernel Log: 2.6.29 development kicks off, improved 3D support

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Following the release of Linux 2.6.28 on Christmas Eve, the start of the hectic merge window phase of development for the next version was delayed for a few days of peace on earth, before business as usual, with Linus Torvalds begining to collect changes for 2.6.29 on the 28th of December. The 5400 odd patches so far adopted in 2.6.69 already include a number of major new features, such as kernel-based mode setting for Intel graphics hardware, the merger of the Sparc and Sparc64 directories, a V4L/DVB driver for the STB0899 chip and extensive changes to the XFS file system.

As part of the "What's coming in 2.6.xx" series, the Kernel Log will, as for 2.6.28, be reporting on new features integrated over the next few days and weeks. It is not yet clear how long the merge window will remain open. On this occasion and following the delays over the holiday period, Torvalds wants to allow a little more than the usual two week period for adopting major new features.

Chris Mason, the driving force behind Btrfs, has now released an experimental version of the file system, as a patch for the current main development tree; some kernel developers have, however, criticised parts of the code, and it currently looks unlikely that the file system will be included in 2.6.29, for development to continue as part of the main development tree. Andrew Morton has released a list of patches to be moved from the MM branch to the main development tree.

All about

Shortly before the New Year, AMD developer Alex Deucher released rudimentary code for using the 3D features offered by the Radeon R600 (Radeon HD 2000 and 3000) and R700 (Radeon 4000) chip series. The code is currently intended for developers only, not for general use, but indicates, for example, how 3D features are addressed, so that it also acts as documentation. The plan is to use this information and parts of the recently released code to add extensive support for the 3D features of graphics chips, to drivers and Direct Rendering Managers (DRM). It is still likely to be a few months before end users can run Compiz, games and 3D applications on the latest generation of Radeon chips. In his blog and in an e-mail Radeonhd developer Matthias Hopf reveals some details of the experimental code and how to use it.

Between mid and late December, the developers released several new drivers and libraries, including new versions of xf86-video-{s3,s3virge,sis,vesa} and xf86-input-{synaptics,vmmouse}. There is a version 6.9.1 release candidate for the "ati" driver package which includes many new features, such as enhancements for HDMI and support for Radeon RV710 (Radeon HD 4300/HD 4500) and RV730 (Radeon HD 4600) chips. Developers working on the alternative radeonhd driver have something of a head start, with version 1.2.4 already supporting these chips and including enhancements for HDMI.

There is also an Intel driver 2.6 release candidate, which includes a number of improvements. Version 1.7.0 of the siliconmotion graphics driver is already complete and comes equipped with a number of new features.

In Brief:

  • The Zune Player is not alone in having come to grief over the New Year – a number of Linux systems were also caught out. The code for dealing with the leap second, added on New Year's Eve, was at fault. A patch is now available to ensure that the problem does not arise the next time a leap second needs to be added.
  • A patch by Pavel Machek published on LKML has triggered a wide-ranging debate on where ext3 can appropriately be used and the risks involved with its use, with and without barriers.
  • Three patches to enable a kernel to be compiled without Perl – required for building since 2.6.25 – have also triggered long discussions on LKML.

Further background and information about developments in the Linux kernel and its environment can also be found in previous issues of the kernel log at heise open:

Older Kernel logs can be found in the archives or by using the search function at heise open.


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