Linux 3.9 Release

Linus Torvalds has announced the release of Linux Kernel 3.9:

So the last week was much quieter than the preceding ones, which makes me suspect that one reason -rc7 was bigger than I liked was that people were gaming the system and had timed some of their pull requests for just before the release, explaining why -rc7 was big enough that I didn’t  actually want to do a final release last week. Please don’t do that.

Anyway. Whatever the reason, this week has been very quiet, which makes me much more comfortable doing the final 3.9 release, so I guess the last -rc8 ended up working. Because not only aren’t there very many commits here, even the ones that made it really are tiny and not pretty obscure and not very interesting.

Also, this obviously means that the merge window is open. I won’t be merging anything today, but if you start sending me your pull requests (Konrad already sent in his Xen pull request for the 3.10 merge window a week ago), tomorrow the flood gates start opening..

Linux 3.8 brought file systems enhancement for Btrfs, XFS and ext-4, introduce F2FS file system, memory management improvement, and the removal for i386 support.

Linux 3.9 brings the following key changes (Sources H-Online and Phoronix):

  • File-system improvements:
    • Btrfs has experimental RAID5/6 support and fsync performance improvements.
    • EXT-4 bug fixes for corruption issue, and JBD2 journaling layer issue which affected performance.
    • Various improvements for F2FS file-system.
  • Added ability to use SSDs as hard-disk cache.
  • Update the latest LZO compression implementation within the kernel. Decompression and compression performance has been massively improved and x86 and ARM targets.
  • Improved power management, including “lightweight suspend” (aka “suspend freeze”) mode.
  • Improved ARM SoC support
    • Added Nvidia Tegra 4 support including support for Dalmore and Pluto development boards.
    • Added Nvidia Tegra 3 Beaver Board support
    • Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) support for ARMv7 (Cortex A15 required)
  • Mainlining of Google’s Goldfish virtual CPU.
  • Initial ARC Linux support. See commit.
  • Added support for Imagination Meta ATP (Meta 1) and HTP (Meta 2)
  • Graphics drivers updates – Nouveau, the open-source reverse-engineered NVIDIA Linux graphics driver, is faster for some Linux OpenGL games. There’s also some Intel OpenGL performance changes.
  • Support for Intel 7000 Wi-Fi components supporting 802.11ac.
  • CONFIG_EXPERIMENTAL kernel configuration option has been removed

More details about Linux 3.9 will be available on Kernelnewbies.org (which is currently down).

(via CNXSoft blog)

Red Hat unveils 10-year support plan

Red Hat has extended the life cycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 and 6 from seven to 10 years. Meanwhile Linux kernel insider Greg Kroah-Hartman has left Red Hat rival SUSE to join the Linux Foundation as a new fellow, where he joins a select group that includes Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

Red Hat announced it has extended the production life cycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 and 6 from seven to 10 years, as reported by our sister publication eWEEK. With the extension, RHEL 5 support will be carried through 2017, and RHEL 6 users are supported through 2020.

The new plan was implemented due to high customer demand, said Red Hat. As Joe Brockmeier explains onReadWriteWeb, “Many of the customers adopting RHEL 5 were doing so mid-cycle, and were looking at dealing with upgrades sooner than what’s desirable.”

Red Hat laid out a plan in which it offers services for each major Red Hat release throughout four life cycle phases: Production 1, 2, and 3, plus an Extended Life Phase. RHEL 5 and 6 are offered with 10 years of Production Phase support, followed by a three-year Extended Life Phase. The life cycle phases are designed to reduce the level of change within each major release over time and make release availability and content more predictable, the company said.

Red Hat goes on to explain how individual updates known as “errata advisories” will be released through sources including the Red Hat Customer Portal, either individually “as-needed” or aggregated as a minor release. Errata advisories, which are classified as security fixes, bug fixes, or feature enhancements, are tested and qualified against the respective, active major releases of RHEL, says the company. All released errata advisories are said to remain accessible to active subscribers for the entire RHEL lifecycle.

Stated Jim Totton, vice president and general manager of the Platform Business Unit of Red Hat, “Enterprise customers require flexibility when planning strategic, long-term technology deployments. With a ten-year life cycle, customers now have additional choices when planning their Red Hat Enterprise Linux deployment and overall IT strategy.”

Kroah-Hartman joins LF as fellow

One of the top Linux kernel maintainers has been selected to join a small group of Linux Foundation poobahs known as fellows. Greg Kroah-Hartman (pictured) will leaveAttachmate’s SUSE business unit, which develops RHEL rival SUSE Linux Enterprise, to adopt his new duties as a fellow.

Kroah-Hartman, who also held the role of a fellow at SUSE, will continue his work as the maintainer for the Linux stable kernel branch and a variety of subsystems, as detailed in this second eWEEKreport. As a fellow, Kroah-Hartman will also work more closely with Linux Foundation (LF) members, workgroups, Labs projects, and staff on key initiatives to advance Linux, says the nonprofit foundation.

The Linux kernel project, which is overseen by Linus Torvalds under the auspices of the LF, counts on big technology corporations like SUSE and Red Hat to contribute expertise and code to the Linux kernel. However, when the demand for contributed labor outstrips supply — especially at the high level provided by talent such as Kroah-Hartman — the Fellowship program helps fill those gaps via financial support to software developers working on Linux and open source projects.

The LF works with users, vendors, and developers to identify where additional work or resources could accelerate development, says the foundation. Kroah-Hartman, also known as Greg KH, created and maintains the Linux Driver Project, and is the maintainer for the Linux stable kernel branch (and subsystems including USB, staging, driver core, tty, and sysfs). He’s also an adviser to Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab and a member of The LF’s Technical Advisory Board.

An author of two books covering Linux device drivers and kernel development, Kroah-Hartman is a regular speaker at industry events such as LinuxCon.

In Feb. 2010, Kroah-Hartman attracted some attention when he played the “bad cop” in announcing he hadremoved Google’s Android driver code from Linux kernel 2.6.33. (In this case, the “good cop” was Linux creator Linus Torvalds, who around the same time revealed he was very happy with his new Android phone.)

The code was said to have been excised because the Linux-based Android platform has become incompatible with the project’s main tree, a distancing some have referred to as a fork. Underlying the continuing tension between the Linux and Android camps has been Google’s somewhat lackadaisical effort at contributing updated Android code back to the kernel.

More recently, Kroah-Hartman has been known as a leader of the Long Term Support Initiative (LTSI) project created by its Consumer Electronics (CE) workgroup, intended to reduce duplication of effort in maintaining private industry Linux kernel trees.

In addition to Kroah-Hartman, the Linux Foundation fellows currently include Torvalds, Till Kamppeter, Janina Sajka, and OpenEmbedded developer/Yocto Project maintainer Richard Purdie, who was selected for the role in Dec. 2010. Previous fellows have included Steve Hemminger, Andrew Morton, Andrew Tridgell, and Ted Ts’o.

Stated Kroah-Hartman, “I’m excited to continue my work on the Linux kernel alongside the best developers in the world and to increase collaboration among Linux Foundation members and kernel developers.”

Stated Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, “Greg is among the world’s most talented software developers and is providing unmatched contributions to the advancement of Linux.”

(via Linuxfordevices.com)

Linux 3.2 goes bigtime on file systems, improves thin provisioning


Linus Torvalds announced the release of the Linux 3.2 kernel, featuring file-system enhancements such as support for Ext4 block sizes up to 1MB, and faster scrubbing with Btrfs. Other Linux 3.2 highlights are said to include process scheduler improvements, better thin provisioning support in the Device Mapper, improved desktop responsiveness for heavy write-backs, and new Wi-Fi and graphics drivers.

The Linux 3.2 kernel arrived a few days late, according to Linux creator and overseer Linus Torvalds in his Jan. 4 announcement. That’s a vast improvement over Linux 3.1, however, which was released several weeks late in October due to an earlier outbreak of malware attacks against the kernel’s home at Kernel.org.

Linux 3.1 offered enhancements to performance, virtualization, and power management, as well as support for near field communication (NFC). Linux 3.2, meanwhile, refocuses on a central concern of kernel enhancements: the file-systems.

According to the official Linux 3.2 changelog on KernelNewbies.org, one of the most prominent new features is the addition of large file support on the mainstream Ext4 file system. Ext4 now supports files larger than 4KB and as big as 1MB, thereby improving performance with the large files found frequently in the server world.

The still experimental Btrfs file system, meanwhile, has been updated with faster scrubbing, more detailed corruption messages, and manual inspection tools, says the changelog. Btrfs is also said to have been upgraded with automatic backup of critical filesystem metadata.

Process bandwidth control and “dirty throttling”

The kernel’s process scheduler now offers a process bandwidth controller that provides support for setting upper limits of CPU time. In addition, desktop responsiveness has been improved for heavy data write-back applications, using a technique called “I/O-less dirty throttling,” according to the changelog. In the area of memory handling, “cross memory attach” enhancements have been added to allow read/write to and from another process’ address space.

In networking, the TCP stack now includes an algorithm that speeds the recovery of the connection after lost packets, says KernelNewbies.org. In addition, the “perf top” profiling tool has added support for live inspection of tasks and libraries, as well as the ability to view the annotated assembly code.

The Linux 3.2 kernel’s Device Mapper has added support for thin provisioning of storage, providing for greater flexibility and efficiency in provisioning storage capacity to multiple users. The technology helps system administrators avoid over-provisioning storage for users who do not need it, explains the changelog.

Hexagon support leads driver changes

The kernel now supports Qualcomm’s Hexagon digital signal processor (DSP), says the changelog. Other driver improvements include support for the DRM/KMS driver for Intel GPUs (graphics processing units). This will enable the more efficient and Intel-specific RC6 graphics power-saving feature by default, according to an analysis of the Linux 3.2 kernel in The H by Thorsten Leemhuis.

In addition, Leemhuis notes that the Nvidia Nouveau driver now uses the acceleration functions that are available with the auto-generated firmware on the Fermi graphic cores NVC1, NVC8, and NVCF.

Finally, Wi-Fi driver changes include the advancement of Broadcom’s Brcmsmac and Brcmfmac Brcm80211 drivers from the staging area into the network subsystem. Also advancing to the subsystem is the Ath6kl Wi-Fi driver for the Atheros’ AR6003 chip, writes Leemhuis.
(via Linuxfordevices.com)