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15 August 2008, 11:13

Kernel Log: Kernel development explained, new Synaptics driver, Linux 2.6.27-rc3 published

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As mentioned earlier in the week, the Linux Foundation has published How to Participate in the Linux Community by Jon Corbet. Corbet explains the background to the kernel development process and has many tips on how to get into kernel development, avoid common errors in submitted code and how to cooperate with the kernel developers. The book should be very useful, not only for hobby developers, but for enterprises and hardware companies who are not familiar with how the Linux kernel is developed. The publication seems more than overdue; in the past, hardware manufacturers releasing driver code, for example, have had trouble interacting with the open source development process.

Attentive Kernel Log readers will recall the book was actually released at the end of July by Jon Corbet, its author and director of, as a patch to the Linux Kernel Mailing List, LKML, so that other kernel developers could read it and submit suggestions for improvements. Corbet and the Linux Foundation are not alone in dealing with this topic; Andi Kleen presented On submitting kernel patches as one of the many presentations at the Ottawa Linux Symposium 2008.

Many notebooks use the X-input driver for the synaptics and ALPS trackpads but the driver has not been updated since 2006. Now Christopher Brill is managing the driver and has released version 0.15.0. This brings with it numerous changes and bug fixes. It is also the first version of the driver to be released under the MIT licence, the licence used by the project; previous versions of the driver were GPL licensed.

The constant flood of patches in the main development branch leading to the 2.6.27 kernel over the past few days seems to have come to a rest. Linus Torvalds has released Linux 2.6.27-rc3 and expressed the hope that many of the regressions from 2.6.26 have been resolved. Some minor changes were made though, such as the removal of the long-broken ISDN auerswald USB driver from the kernel whose duties are now managed by a libusb user space driver.

As well as the previously mentioned ath9k driver for the Atheros Draft-n wifi chipsets, the Ridiculous Count 3 release of 2.6.27 already has support of Intel's Ibex Peak I/O chip, expected to appear, in the third quarter of next year, as part of Intel's 'Nehalem' architure processors, currently codenamed Lynnfield and Havendale. Torvalds, writing on the Linux Kernel Mailing List, suggested that the handling of page faults on the 'Nehalem' architecture was signifigantly improved over the Pentium 4 and catching up with AMD's handling.

After the code to support the Centrino-2 Wifi chips in Intel's "Wireless Wifi Link 5000AGN" was recently included in the main development branch, Intel has officially announced Linux support for the chips. It also plans to back-port the driver, named iwlagn, to older releases of the kernel. The driver does not work with the WIMAX features available in some of the chips. Intel developers are working with the project which recently released a 1.2.5 version of the WIMAX stack.

In Brief

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. (thl/c't)


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