Kernel log: New graphics drivers and stable kernels; details about Linux-staging
Numerous new versions for various popular AMD, Nvidia and Intel graphics drivers for Linux were released in the last few days.
AMD released Catalyst version 8.6 of the proprietary graphics driver for Radeon GPUs which is also known as fglrx. It fixes several bugs and offers an improved installation routine; in addition, the driver is already said to support the new generation of Radeon graphics chips soon due for release. However, the new version still doesn't support the pre-release versions of X Server 1.5, which is supplied with Fedora and is part of X.org 7.4. Dave Airlie has published DRM patches for a pre-release version of Linux 2.6.26 which match the micro code to that released by AMD and provide 3D support for R500 GPUs in the kernel's Direct Rendering Manager – to achieve 3D acceleration with the Radeon X1000 series, new versions of the ati or radeonhd X.org drivers and a new Mesa are also required. Linus Torvalds has integrated Airlie's patches in the main development branch currently leading to 2.6.26 although the patches were rather large and the development cycle is already well advanced.
Nvidia has released new versions of its proprietary graphics drivers for Linux x86-32 and x86-64; these drivers also contain corrections (for example for X Server 1.5) and support the latest GPU generation which was introduced only recently. The code in the main development branch of the "nv" X.org driver for Nvidia cards has recently started to support this GPU generation and is also said to co-operate with many series 9 GeForce Mobile chips. Following a statement against proprietary Linux kernel drivers by many important kernel developers yesterday, Nvidia has defended its decision in a statement on ZDNet; According to the ZDNet blog, the vendor doesn't plan to release any open source graphics drivers in the future and claims that there is no need for them.
Intel developers have now released version 2.3.2 of their open source drivers for X.org, which mainly fixes bugs. The programmers are already working on driver generation 2.4 to integrate HDMI and DisplayPort support. The next generation of drivers is said to support G45 chip sets and use the recent GEM for memory management.
Since the last kernel log, the maintainers of the Linux Stable Series have released Linux versions 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199. Both versions fix various kernel bugs and improve the hardware support in a few drivers; the kernel developers did not make any explicit security-related corrections. With version 188.8.131.52, the next version of the 2.6.25 series is already scheduled for release today or tomorrow; in its current incarnation it contains ten changes to fix further bugs (see 1, 2).
Following the release of pre-release version seven a few days ago, the development of Linux 2.6.26 is now in its final stages; however, looking at the error list, various error reports on the LKML and some recent changes to the main development branch it is possible that there will be an eighth pre-release version. It is unlikely, however, that the next Linux version released by Linus Torvalds will take more than another two weeks to complete.
After introducing the Linux-staging development branch and following further discussions and considerations, Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced that Linux-staging will not be contained in Linux-Next as originally planned. Instead, he now plans to maintain the branch separately and update patches with every RC version in the Quilt tree managed with Git. For every pre-release version and for the final kernels in the main development branch, Kroah-Hartman also plans to combine the patches in the Quilt tree into one big patch to make integrating Linux-staging easier for testers. He recently released the first of these patches for Linux 2.6.26-rc7.
The introduction of Linux-staging was triggered by discussions about the optimum timing for integrating new drivers. James Bottomley recently picked up this thread and suggested a detailed discussion at this year's Kernel Summit.
Kernel log in brief:
- Matthew Garrett has published the source code of an experimental kernel module that tries to re-initialise Nvidia graphics hardware after a suspend. This is said to enhance the interoperability with the open source "nv" X.org driver in ACPI S3 mode – so far, this mode has been unreliable, or not functioned at all, in connection with the free X.org driver.
- The current developers of Git, the source code management system started by Linus Torvalds and used extensively in the Linux kernel environment, have released version 1.5.6.
- Michael Kerrisk has become a fellow with the Linux Foundation and will work on various documentation projects. In this position he has already released man-pages 3.0. In the future he intends to handle API descriptions and maintain the documentation shipped with kernels.
- Jouni Malinen has published a patch that integrates support for the not yet finalised IEEE 802.11w (Protected Management Frames) into the MAC80211 Linux wireless stack.
- The developers of the Hplip project have released version 2.8.6 of the Hplip drivers for HP printers and multifunctional devices. This version is the first to support 30 new devices – including numerous all-in-one models.
- Olaf Kirch has started to work on a new document describing the most important internal aspects of the network stack, which will allow newcomers to approach the subject without being overwhelmed by details.
- The developers of the LessWatts initiative have released PowerTop version 1.10.