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16 August 2010, 09:39

Main development phase for Linux kernel 2.6.36 concluded

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Linus Torvalds has released the first pre-release version of Linux 2.6.36 and closed the merge window – the first phase in the development cycle, during which the bulk of changes for a new kernel version are merged into the main development tree. The usual announcement mail for the new kernel is currently nowhere to be found, but the RC1 is tagged in the Kernel Git tree and available for download on

There have, as usual, been hundreds of changes, many of which are significant even for users who do not delve too deeply into the kernel of their Linux distribution. Kernel hackers have, as expected, merged the Kernel components of security framework AppArmor, which has long been used in distributions such as openSUSE and Ubuntu, but has never quite made the leap into the official kernel. After a few false starts, Fanotify, which among other things, is of interest for its on-access virus scanner, has now found its way into the kernel.

The new kernel version, as ever, has hundreds of new and extended drivers, including a driver for intelligent power sharing (IPS), which allows graphics chips in some mobile Intel Westmere processors (such as the Core i5) to overclock the processor when it is not utilising its full thermal budget. Also new are an interface for the Licr userspace daemon in the infrared remote control subsystem introduced in 2.6.35, and a number of drivers dependent on it. Support for KMS on NVIDIA's Fermi graphics chips (in use in new graphics cards since March), though very new and still rather rudimentary, has also been merged. There have once again been several changes to kernel infrastructure, such as concurrency managed workqueues and a reworked out-of-memory (OOM) killer.

With the merge window closed, the nine to twelve week stabilisation phase begins, during which Torvalds merges primarily minor changes intended to fix bugs without introducing new ones. This approach was implemented much more strictly than had previously been the case, during 2.6.35 development, with Torvalds rejecting numerous patch collections submitted by subsystem maintainers because he considered the changes involved to be too bold. As noted in the release mail for Linux 2.6.35, he was pleased with the results of this experiment and plans to adopt a similar approach for 2.6.36 saying that "I'd like to try to repeat the experiment for the next release cycle, and be pretty hard-nosed about taking patches and Git pull requests after the merge window closes.".

The functionality to be expected of Linux 2.6.36 is therefore already pretty clear. As usual, The H will be reporting on what's new in Linux 2.6.36 over the next few weeks in the Kernel Log, leading up to the release of the new kernel version in mid to late October.

Older Kernel Logs can be found in the archives or by using the search function at The H Open Source. New editions of Kernel Logs are also mentioned on and Twitter via "@kernellog2". The Kernel Log author also posts updates about various topics on and Twitter via "@kernellogauthor".


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