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13 December 2008, 11:07

Kernel Log: New kernel versions, progress with Btrfs and Tux3

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After the release of kernel version in the second half of November, the maintainers of the stable kernel series recently released version Both versions contain a fix for a security vulnerability, while in more than a hundred other changes offer small improvements and correct flaws, like the cosmetic improvement to fix the "dirty feet" of the penguins displayed when booting the framebuffer console.

Version is already in preparation and offers more than eighty additional improvements – among them another security correction and a whole bunch of workarounds for the audio hardware in recent PCs, notebooks and mainboards. The deadline for submitting comments about the changes scheduled for is on Saturday evening; shortly afterwards, Greg Kroah-Hartman is expected to release the next version of the 2.6.27 series.

Thursday's release of the eighth pre-release version of 2.6.28 signals the impending completion of the next major kernel update. Due to the holidays at the end of the year, Linus Torvalds has asked the other kernel developers for their opinion about the release date in the release email for 2.6.28-rc8 – if 2.6.28 were released in a couple of weeks, a major part of the merge window for 2.6.29 would be within the holidays, during which time even kernel developers don't necessarily want to sit at their keyboards. It remains to be seen which of Torvalds' suggestions will be adopted; however, he definitely wants to close the two week merge window before the start of the LCA/ 2009, which opens its doors on 19th January.

Willy Tarreau has released version 2.4.37 for the users of series 2.4 kernels. Apart from corrections, it also offers new and updated drivers. In his release notes, Tarreau particularly points out the drivers for storage hardware and for AMD's Geode LX. Some users have requested updated or new network drivers, and the maintainer of series 2.4 is considering the integration of such drivers.

File systems

Chris Mason is preparing the integration of Btrfs into the main development branch and has created a Git tree to incorporate the new file system into Linux-next. Mason hopes that future versions of Btrfs will be able to handle the on-disk format generated by the code of the recently updated Git tree – this would save Btrfs testers the trouble of having to reformat their storage media for new Btrfs versions on a regular basis. Andrew Morton pointed out that the code still needs to be reviewed before it is incorporated into Linux-next; Mason has listed several known problems related to this process.

Daniel Phillips has been entertaining the users and developers interested in the still very young Tux3 file system with emails containing detailed progress information (1, 2, 3). Although it is also experimental, Btrfs is already much more advanced than Tux3 and offers a considerably wider range of features; nevertheless, Andrew Morton has already advised Phillips to stop developing new features for Tux3 as soon as possible and submit the file system to the kernel developers for integration.

Kernel log in brief

  • AMD has released version 8.12 of its proprietary Linux graphics drivers for x86-32 and x86-64 systems. The release notesPDF list several of the improvements, for example the support of Ubuntu 8.10 and stream computing – the latter is also one of the new features of the simultaneously released Windows driver.
  • The kernel hackers responsible for the real-time tree have recently started a Git tree designed, to prepare the improvements developed in the RT tree for integration into the main development branch of Linux.
  • Thomas Gleixner and Ingo Molnar released the first version of the Performance Counters for Linux performance monitoring infrastructure a few days ago, and supplied two updated versions shortly afterwards (1, 2). This caused quite a bit of discussion on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML), as many kernel hackers had expected the integration of the, more mature, but also more complex perfmon3, in the near future.
  • In his blog, Peter Hutterer tries to disperse several myths surrounding evdev, xorg.conf and hal. The blog entry was triggered by a long discussion about the use of X without HAL on the developer mailing list.
  • Kernel hacker Matthew Garrett, who often deals with ACPI and power saving topics, has developed an educational interest and summarised several "good practices" for saving power under Linux in a document. He explains that the ondemand governor usually enabled by default represents the best choice for modern processors; in contrast to what is implied by their names, the powersave and performance governors don't improve power saving and performance, he said.

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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