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Torvalds and Morton Release Linux Kernel 2.6

Torvalds and Morton Release Linux Kernel 2.6

"Now is when we want big companies and software vendors to step in and hammer on the kernel so we can get their ideas into the final production release of 2.6 Linux," said OSDL Fellow Linus Torvalds. "This is their last big chance."

By Kirk L. Kroeker
10/28/03 11:23 AM PT

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a global consortium of technology companies dedicated to accelerating adoption of Linux, has announced the release of a new 2.6 Linux test kernel from Linux creator Linus Torvalds and 2.6 kernel maintainer Andrew Morton. The kernel is ready for enterprise testing.

The software release -- available on the Web at kernel.org -- is called the test9 release of the Linux 2.6 kernel. According to OSDL, it is a significant milestone in the development of the final production version of the new 2.6 Linux kernel. OSDL is now calling on Linux customers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and systems providers to target this release for testing, validation and enhancement to prepare for the next production release.

"Now is when we want big companies and software vendors to step in and hammer on the kernel so we can get their ideas into the final production release of 2.6 Linux," said OSDL Fellow Linus Torvalds. "This is their last big chance."

When Torvalds and Morton released the first 2.6 kernel test version in July, they established stable APIs, including Posix and thread interfaces, in preparation for the full release. Since July, OSDL has performed extensive performance and regression tests on the kernel at its data center test lab facilities in Portland, Oregon, and Yokohama, Japan.

Test Infrastructure

The lab's Linux test infrastructure consists of OSDL's Scalable Test Platform (STP) and Patch Lifecycle Manager (PLM) systems, plus a compile regression test platform. The lab publishes testing results online at osdl.org.

The OSDL testing infrastructure tracks the progress of kernel development, checking new patches when they are released. OSDL has created a set of database workload tests based on fair-use implementation of key Transaction Processing Council (TPC) tests, and provides source code for other test suites, including an updated version of the AIM7 and AIM9 tests.

All OSDL test code is freely available under an open-source license. OSDL is continuously performing tests on enterprise hardware configurations and publishes those results online at osdl.org. The lab encourages users of the Linux-2.6.0-test9 kernel to take advantage of OSDL test workloads, which are available online at OSDL or on Sourceforge, and to report back on their experiences and results.

"The new 2.6 Linux kernel really broadens the markets where Linux can replace legacy platforms," said Timothy Witham, OSDL lab director. "It has key new features that allow Linux to scale dramatically up to support 32 or more processors and down to run in a wide variety of consumer and industrial devices, including hundreds of new low-cost embedded processors."

Major Improvements

Among the major improvements in the new 2.6 kernel compared with the current production 2.4 Linux kernel released in January 2001 are improved scalability, faster threading, enhanced driver layer and support for more embedded devices.

The kernel has been tested on up to 64-way systems. According to Torvalds, it is ready for production use on 32-way machines. The team has added new CPU scheduler, memory management and file system code, plus support for up to 8 GB of memory on IA-32 systems. The new native Posix thread library for Linux (NPTL) results in test times on 100,000 threads reduced from 15 minutes to 2 seconds for significantly faster system performance under heavy loads.

The new driver layer is designed to help I/O devices -- such as disks -- perform better and be easier to manage. Features of the driver layer include logical volume management and a new device mapper. In addition to these enhancements, the new kernel offers support for many more embedded device applications, including support for low-cost, low-power CPUs that do not have memory-management units -- typical of embedded systems.

Finally, the new kernel offers several new desktop features, such as the ability to hot-plug devices, including Firewire and USB. Mouse, video and sound functions are, according to OSDL, smoother and perform better with the new kernel. In addition, the new Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) is designed to bring professional music-studio quality audio to the platform.

OSDL's Mission

OSDL is home to Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. The organization is dedicated to accelerating growth and adoption of Linux in the enterprise.

Founded in 2000 and supported by a global consortium of IT industry leaders, OSDL is a nonprofit organization that provides computing and test facilities in the United States and Japan to developers around the world.

OSDL members include Alcatel, Cisco, Computer Associates, Dell, Ericsson, Fujitsu, HP, Hitachi, IBM, Intel, Linuxcare, MontaVista Software, NEC, Nokia, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, TimeSys and many other major vendors.


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