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26 June 2008, 15:45

Kernel log: New graphics drivers and stable kernels; details about Linux-staging

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Kernel log logo 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 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 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" 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, 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 and 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, 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:


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