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07 October 2009, 16:18

Kernel Log - Improved USB 3. 0 support, drivers to move back into X Server

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Kernel Log Penguin

by Thorsten Leemhuis

Linux not only offers minor bug fixes, but also selected major changes. The hackers have adapted their development strategy and, in the long term, plan to merge several drivers back into the X Server code.

Linux version status

The maintainers of the Linux Stable Series have recently released their Linux versions, and – with the usual unspecific recommendation that the users of non-distribution kernels should make sure they upgrade to the new versions ("All users of the 2.6.xx kernel series are very strongly encouraged to upgrade.").

The new versions usually correct bugs and offer a number of minor improvements. However, Linux also includes some changes that are uncommonly substantial for a stable kernel, as Greg Kroah-Hartmanand points out in his review email. For instance, apparently only now has the USB 3.0 support that was introduced with 2.6.31 been made to run smoothly in; the developers also modified some of the Wi-Fi, KVM and Xen drivers to a greater extent than they usually do. The new version is said to allow better I/O throughput rates for large servers.

In his release e-mail, Kroah-Hartman explains that this will be the last version in the 2.6.30 series – users are advised to switch to Linux 2.6.31. The kernel hackers still intend to maintain the 2.6.27 series for some time.

Main development branch

Having closed the merge window for Linux 2.6.32 by releasing the first release candidate a week ago, Linus Torvalds recently released the second RC. It is called Linux 2.6.32-rc3, because Torvalds accidentally wrote rc2 into the makefile, which caused the first release candidate to pretend it was the second RC – to avoid further confusion, Linus Torvalds has now called the actual second release candidate rc3. Torvalds hopes to avoid similar blunders in future, he said ("And let's hope that I won't have that particular "senior moment" any more. Although I'm sure I can screw up releases some other way.")

As reported, the DRBD (Distributed Replicated Block Device) replication solution missed the integration deadline for Linux 2.6.32 – however, Torvalds is willing to merge DRBD with 2.6.33.

X status

Having discussed reliable releases in September, the developers agreed an actual procedure that is very close to the original proposal made at the recently held X Developers' Conference 2009 (XDC2009). In addition, the developers agreed to merge some of the drivers they currently maintain separately back into the X Server code from about X Server version 1.10 ("Around 1.10, we'd like to merge the drivers back into the core so we can start getting a coherent API (well, any API would be a start).").

Find further notes about the topics discussed at the XDC2009 in the wiki. According to the notes, the developers are preparing Linux to support AMD series R800 GPUs that are used, for example, in the recently introduced Radeon HD 5800 ("support coming up").

In brief

  • Edward Shishkin has released a Linux 2.6.31-compatible version of the Reiser4 file system, which was much discussed several years ago.
  • File system specialist Valerie Aurora has submitted a new RFC to further promote the development of a solution for union mounts (writeable file system overlays) that is suitable for integration into the main development branch.
  • A few days ago, a Flash video recording of the "Linux Kernel Roundtable" held at the Linuxcon conference was published on the web pages of – in the discussions, Torvalds called the Linux kernel "bloated."
  • Peter Hutterer has announced the new xf86-input-wacom driver – it is a fork of the linuxwacom driver for Wacom tablets initiated by Ping Cheng, which in future, the hackers intend to develop and improve within and
  • The developers of the xf86-video-intel graphics driver have released version 2.9.0 of the driver. It offers several improvements for Intel's old series 800 graphics chip-sets and supports the vendor's B43 chip-set. The driver is part of a "Intel 2009Q3 release package" that became available on the same day and offers further driver software needed, among other things, for 3D support – for instance the recently released Mesa3D 7.6. The Intel developers recommend to give preference to KMS (Kernel-based Mode Setting) with this driver collection ("KMS (Kernel Mode Setting) is strongly recommended to use in this release.").
  • The Embedded Linux service provider Pengutronix in Hildesheim has recently started to maintain a repository with kernel packages precompiled for Debian that contain the real-time patches of the development branch.

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 The H Open Source:

Older Kernel Logs can be found in the archives or by using the search function at The H Open Source. (thl/c't)


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